The Zoo announces the birth of a male baby orangutan.
Age: 5 months
Weight: 11 pounds
Length: 14 inches long
Hair: 2-3 inches long and ORANGE!
It’s been a busy few months in the Great Ape Building at Utah’s Hogle Zoo but we’re finally able to let the cat … errr…. the ape, out of the bag!
Meet Tuah – our five month-old Bornean orangutan who has had staff in the clouds!
“Tuah means ‘luck’ in Malay,” said ape keeper Abby Green. “And we just feel so incredibly lucky to have him.”
Tuah’s parents, Eve and Elijah, both passed away last year; Eve just a few weeks after Tuah’s birth. “It was a really sad time here,” said Green. “But he’s given all of us something to focus on – especially his big sister Acara.”
And focus, Acara has! “She’s really stepped up as being his caregiver and we’re 100% pleased with how well she’s doing.”
After Eve’s passing, animal Care staff worked closely with AZA (Assoc. of Zoos and Aquariums) and the Orangutan SSP (Species Survival Plan) to come up with the best plan of attack for raising the little ape – a species that requires constant attention from mom.
This meant 24-hour care from the keepers who worked round-the-clock shifts. “We’d try sleeping in the recliner but the floor ended up being more comfortable,” Green said. “We’d sleep on the hay – we had a hay pillow and everything. We itched terribly but got used to it!”
For four months, keepers ate, slept and brought changes of clothes to ensure Tuah was getting not only the best care, but working on his bond with big sis.
Keepers worked with Acara prior to Tuah’s birth on how to be gentle around baby brother. But after Eve’s passing, the training took on a new level of importance.
“We had to teach Acara [who will be 10 in May] how to be a mom,” Green said. “We taught her ‘gentle’ and ‘bottle’ and ‘leave it.'”
Keepers started with baby dolls, teaching Acara how to hold a baby right-side-up. “She also had to learn ‘bottle’ when we need her to bring him to the door for a feeding.”
Acara also had to adjust to moving around her exhibit with the hairy little guy clinging to her. “She’s done an amazing job,” Green said. “She’s eager to learn, she’s interested and she’s smart.”
With a little help from the keepers, Acara and Tuah were brought together, in just four months – an impressively short amount of time. “It took us nine months with Acara and Eve, so we’re really happy it’s gone so well.”