A baby female Northwest Bornean orangutan was born Sunday at the Little Rock Zoo to mother Berani and father Bandar. Berani, 14, is a first-time mother; Bandar, 26, has fathered five orangs.
Mother and child can be seen in the Great Ape habitat. Berani carries the baby with her while she’s outside but often turns her back to shield her from human eyes. Bandar has been separated from the two for now. Because keepers do not handle newborns, the baby’s birth weight is not known for sure, but orangs usually weigh around 3 pounds at birth.
Bandar and Berani were brought to the zoo specifically to breed as part of the Orangutan Species Survival plan. Northwest Bornean orangs are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; their risk of extinction in the near future is high. Because of loss and fragmentation of suitable habitat, there are only between 45,000 to 69,000 alive in the wild; that’s a 50 percent decline from the 1990s.
The zoo will likely have a naming contest for the baby.
The New York Times ran a story July 19 about orang habitat loss: Their forest is being cut down so we can have palm oil in our lipstick.
Indonesia is covered by some of the last great reserves of virgin rain forest, but global demand for palm oil, a key ingredient in everything from lipstick to chocolate, is deforesting the country. For Indonesia’s growing population, the oil palm — an African transplant — provides a hopeful economic opportunity. But for conservationists, palm oil monoculture brings twin problems: the destruction of habitat for endangered species and mass carbon emissions from the fires used to clear the land.