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Twycross Zoo celebrates the birth of critically endangered Bornean orangutan

Orangutan baby at Twycross Zoo

Twycross Zoo is excited to welcome into the world a critically-endangered Bornean orangutan baby, third offspring to father Batu and mother Maliku. The new arrival is the first great ape baby to be born at the Leicestershire visitor attraction this year and an important part of a European-wide breeding programme to conserve the iconic orangutan species which faces an uncertain future in the wild.

The baby, born on 27 March 2017, is in the safe hands of experienced and attentive mum Maliku, who came to Twycross Zoo with her mother, Kibriah, in 1996. She has since given birth to Miri, who now lives in Rostock Zoo in Germany, and Molly, who is still at Twycross Zoo and who is looking forward to playing with her new sibling. The new baby will be growing up within a wide family group, including grandmother Kibriah and dad Batu.

However, the future of the new baby’s species in the wild is not as bright. Last year the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) changed the status of Bornean orangutans to Critically Endangered, recognising the ever decreasing population numbers. Among the main threats for the world's largest tree-climbing mammal species in the wild are illegal hunting and habitat loss, as the rainforests they inhabit are burned and destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations.

Twycross Zoo is a partner in the United Nations Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP), helping to ensure the long-term survival of great ape species and their habitat in both Asia and Africa; promoting awareness of the threats that apes such as orangutans are facing.

The orangutan youngsters at Twycross Zoo, Molly and the new baby, will stay with their mother until they become old enough to fend for themselves at around seven years of age. In the long term, both will eventually be rehomed at other zoos, where they will meet their own mates to go on to have offspring themselves, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme that helps preserve the genetic diversity of the species and aims to conserve healthy animal populations in captivity.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences says, “We are thrilled by this new baby because orangutans reproduce more slowly than other ape species, which hinders the recovery of the species in the wild. Maliku is a great mother, she has done very well looking after her first two infants and we have no doubt that this baby will have all it needs to grow up into a healthy orangutan. I hope that this birth will help us highlight the plight of orangutans in the wild and that with the support of the public who visit us we can continue to work to ensure a better future for this precious species. Simple consumer actions, such as purchasing products which contain either no palm oil or sustainably sourced palm oil, can really help so each of us individually can make a big difference to this species survival.”

Do your bit to help orangutans by visiting Twycross Zoo, or by joining the zoo’s animal adoption scheme, which help support the conservation of endangered species.

Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10.00 to 18.00. For more information and to book tickets visit www.twycrosszoo.org or call 0844 474 1777.