Audubon Zoo in New Orleans Celebrates Christmas Eve Birth of Healthy Sumatran Orangutan

So cute!

Congratulations are in order for a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and the staff at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans!

On Christmas Eve, 12-year-old Menari, who was pregnant with an extremely rare set of twins, gave birth to a healthy male infant. Sadly, the second infant was "badly positioned" and died in utero.

Audubon Zoo Orangutan
Audubon Zoo

"This is a bittersweet time for our team, but, given the very serious complications with the second infant, we are extremely happy that Menari and the surviving infant are together and doing well," Audubon's Senior Veterinarian Bob MacLean said in a news release. "There are many risks associated with pregnancy, especially with first-time mothers, but our veterinary team and OBGYN specialists are very pleased with Menari's recovery and her natural mothering instincts thus far. We cannot thank our Orangutan Species Survival Plan advisors and institutional colleagues enough for their guidance and expertise."

Menari, a first-time mama, and the surviving infant are currently behind-the-scenes to give them time to bond. The baby is reportedly nursing very well.

When Menari's pregnancy was announced in October, the zoo said there was about a 1% chance of twins. Twin births are inherently high risk in orangutans.

McLean told The Guardian that veterinarians don't know what caused the death of the other baby.

"The medical team on-hand did indicate that the placenta appeared abnormal," he said."We will be sending tissues for histopathology to glean more information, but those results will be many weeks to come."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed Sumatran orangutans as "critically endangered." Fewer than 14,000 live in the wild and their numbers are decreasing due to palm oil plantations encroaching on their habitats.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of this critically endangered species, and I am incredibly proud of our dedicated veterinarians and animal care team," Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman said in a statement. "The orangutan group at the Zoo serves as ambassadors for their species, teaching guests about the plight of Sumatran orangutans in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict."

Congratulations to all. We can't wait to watch this sweet baby grow.

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