SAN DIEGO — A 7-month-old orangutan is back in the arms of its mother at the San Diego Zoo after the two had to be separated during a health scare for the older ape, wildlife specialists said.
The zoo celebrated the critically endangered primates, Sumatran orangutans, in a news release Friday to observe International Orangutan Day.
The mother, Indah, had “major health complications” that landed the ape in an animal hospital after giving birth earlier this year, the zoo said.
“Wildlife care specialists jumped in to care for (the baby) Kaja and help nurture him during the critical early weeks of his life,” a news release explained. “Due to quick intervention, both mother and infant are now doing well, and have since been reunited.”
Kaja is now 7 months old and developing normally, finally bonding with his mother.
“It was a slow process that required a lot of patience and attentiveness, but the reward was great in the end,” Dean Gibson, curator of primates at the zoo, said in a statement.
“After returning from the hospital, it took weeks for Indah to start interacting with Kaja. But once they began spending time together, their bond grew rapidly—and now, they’re nearly inseparable. It warms my heart to see Indah back in the role of mom, because she does it so well.”
The park shared a touching photo of mother cradling baby in their update Friday.
Kaja was the first baby orangutan born at the San Diego Zoo since 2014. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers Sumatran orangutans “critically endangered,” with illegal wildlife trafficking and “rampant deforestation” threatening their existence in Indonesia.
“Orangutans are a well-known species, so it may surprise many to hear that there is a possibility they could all be gone in the near future,” Misha Body, director of wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo, said in a statement.
“Wildlife births like Kaja’s are always exciting events, but seeing a new animal come into the world takes on a weightier meaning, as each new life signifies hope. And hope is a very precious thing in the realm of saving wildlife, because it can help sustain us as we continue our vital work.”