BOTTLE BABY. An endangered Sumatran orangutan infant, who was born on
December 24, 2021, is bottle-fed milk in this undated photo provided by
the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. The infant is being bottle-fed because
its mother wasn’t producing enough milk. (Audubon Zoo via AP)
From The Asian Reporter, V32, #2 (February 7, 2022), page 7.
Baby orangutan being bottle-fed, which intrigues
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An endangered Sumatran orangutan infant at New
Orleans’ zoo is being bottle-fed because its mother wasn’t producing
The still unnamed baby was being tube-fed as well, but the tube was
removed January 13, Audubon Zoo spokeswoman Annie Kinler Matherne said
The great apes with long red hair are considered critically
endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Threats to the Sumatran species include hunting and the destruction of
the forests and peat swamps where they spend nearly all their time in
Twelve-year-old Menari gave birth to the baby on Christmas Eve; a
twin brother was stillborn. Days later, the baby was showing signs of
weakness and lack of nursing.
Veterinarians examined Menari, a first-time mother, and discovered
the lactation problem.
Since then the infant has had round-the-clock care from zoo staffers
wearing furry vests that the baby can cling to. Until the feeding tube
was removed, their duties included making sure he didn’t pick or pull at
the thin tube inserted through his nose.
As of January 20, he was eating well and weighed in at 1.98 kilograms
(4.35 pounds), Audubon Nature Institute vice president and general
curator Bob Lessnau said in a statement sent by Matherne.
Since January 8, six to seven hours of his day has been spent in
front of the other orangutans so they can get to know him, Lessnau said.
"Care staff have noticed that the group is most intrigued when there
is a diaper change or a bottle feed happening!" a January 13 update
Bulan, at age two the oldest of father Jambi’s three New Orleans
offspring, "is especially interested in the new little guy," the
statement said. Madu, the second, was born in February 2021.
Experts from Children’s Hospital of New Orleans have helped out,
including a speech pathologist brought in to suggest ways to stimulate
the baby’s suckling, Lessnau said.
Menari is receiving a drug that can help maintain lactation, said Bob
MacLean, the zoo’s senior veterinarian.
"We don’t know if she will maintain or restart lactation if we have a
successful reintroduction of the infant to her," he said.
But there’s hope in Menari’s history: She also was hand-raised.
"Her mother, Feliz, did start lactating for Menari when she was
finally successfully reintroduced to her and started suckling at around
8 months of age," MacLean said in a statement.
A video last month showed Dr. Daniel Cutler, the zoo’s associate
veterinarian, gently pulling the baby’s hands from hospital keeper Amy
Jones’ fur vest, saying, "He’s ... probably not going to like it — he
wants to be nice and close and cuddle."
The baby clung to Cutler’s index fingers as it was raised into the
air. Looking around, he pulled himself up until the top of his head was
almost even with the fingers he gripped.
"He’s starting to say, ‘I don’t like where I’m at ... put me back
down.’ Which is exactly what we want him to do," the veterinarian said.
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