From the tropical island of Sumatra: rare orangutan born in the Moscow Zoo

December 30, 2019
Parks and pedestrian areas

A Sumatran orang-utan, one of the rarest primates of the planet, was born in the Moscow Zoo. In the wild, they live only on Sumatra, a large Indonesian island. The species is on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. 

'Birth of a rare Sumatran orangutan is a happy event for our Zoo. Today, the number of these animals in the wild has been steadily declining, so it is crucial to create their stable reserve population in Zoos around the world. Our specialists have been working with Sumatran orangutans for many years and regularly get healthy offspring. We transfer grown-up babies to the best zoos of Europe and Russia. The 25-year-old female Chavi (she gave birth to the baby in December) had her previous offspring in 2010 and 2012. Her mother, a 41-year-old female Chapi, has given birth to five babies during her life,' said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.

So far, the mother keeps her baby as close as possible. Chavi carefully holds the newborn close to her chest, sniffing and examining it every now and then. A small orangutan weighs about 1.5 kg. Like adults, it is covered with reddish-brown hair. Other Sumatran orangutans living in the enclosure, the baby's grandmother Chapi and its father, 38-year-old Sandokan, try to stay away from the mother and baby, so as not to disturb them. There are four Sumatran orangutans (Chapi, Sandokan, Chavi and the newborn baby) in the Zoo's collection.

'It will take at least three months before the baby begins to explore the world around it and get acquainted with its relatives. It will eat milk up to three years old, but it will start trying adult food (fruits, vegetables, cereals) at five months,' added Svetlana Akulova.

Zoologists do not conduct full examination of the little orangutan so far, so as not to disturb it and Chavi. Specialists will check health and find out the baby's gender in a few months. Meanwhile, they keep watching the baby and monitoring its health around-the-clock. Daily, the young mother gets her favourite treats, persimmons, fresh herbs, and other nutritious food.

According to Svetlana Akulova, Sumatran orangutans are very smart and resourceful animals. Specialists regularly entertain monkeys living in zoos, so that they do not get bored. So, the inhabitants of the Moscow Zoo enjoy educational toys and items interesting to explore. These are plastic cones, all sorts of containers with treats hidden inside, car tires and hard hats.

These animals are very active and curious. Females Chapi and Chavi love to wrap themselves in carpets and blankets, climb into plastic barrels, and build straw nests. Monkeys of this species have rich facial expressions and use characteristic gestures, interacting with each other.

In the wild, the number of Sumatran orangutans does not exceed 14,000. They live mainly in the northern part of Sumatra, in the rainforest. The animals spend most of the time in the trees and rarely come down to the ground in fear of predators (especially tigers).

The number of monkeys has been declining due to the destruction of their natural habitat. They die during deforestation due to lack of food, and get caught by poachers. The average life expectancy of Sumatran orangutans in the wild is 25 years, but at zoos animals can live up to 60 years.

There is the European captive breeding programme aimed to protect rare animals from extinction. The Moscow Zoo has been taking part in it for more than 20 years.

You can see the baby in the Monkey House pavilion in the new part of the Zoo, where Sumatran orangutans reside together with Bornean orangutans, diana monkeys, lion-tailed macaques and other primates. Visitors can also visit the baby during the New Year holidays.

The Moscow Zoo will be open daily during the January holidays. On 31 December, you can visit giant pandas, Asian elephants, East Caucasian turs, polar bears and other animals 09:00 am till 03:00 pm. On this day, the Zoo is to close an hour earlier. 1 to 8 January, it will be open daily 09:00 am till 05:00 pm. Visitors can buy a ticket at the ticket office and enter the Park until 04:00 pm. 25 December till 8 January, there will be tours and lectures about the winter life of the Zoo's inhabitants.

Фото: Юлия Иванко

25 to 31 December, there is the 'Gifts for the Zoo' campaign running. Citizens may bring a New Year's gift for some Zoo inhabitant, and get a free entrance ticket in exchange. You can bring some useful toys for animals. For example, wolves will be happy to play with rubber dumbbells, seals will love a volleyball. You can bring special congas, hollow pyramids to hide treats, for Sumatran orangutans.

This year, over 150 young were born in the Moscow Zoo, including Siberian lynx, East Caucasian turs, markhoors, American and greater flamingos, and other rare species. Rare birds that live near the Birds and Butterflies pavilion had addition, too. A couple of Dalmatian pelicans hatched two chicks. Pink pelicans had one chick. In November, a rare common trumpeter chick hatched.

The Moscow Zoo regularly replenishes its collection, which boasts over 1,000 species now.  The arrival of two pandas from China was this year’s key event for the Zoo. Ru Yi and Ding Ding have arrived to the Moscow Zoo within the international giant panda preservation, protection and research programme. They will live in the Zoo for 15 years. Giant Panda is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable. They live in some provinces of China, in particular in Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, and in Tibet.


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