LANCASHIRE, United Kingdom — A baby male orangutan has been born at a zoo in the United Kingdom as part of a breeding program aimed at saving the endangered species. The June 2023 birth marks the first Bornean orangutan to be born at the Blackpool Zoo in 20 years.
The species has been designated as critically endangered since 2016 due to a significant decline in population numbers. According to estimates by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), just over 100,000 Bornean orangutans remain in the wild.
“The arrival of this very special baby is wonderful news, not just for us here at Blackpool Zoo, but for the species too,” says Darren Webster, the Director of Blackpool Zoo, in a statement.
The zoo announced that the first-time mother, Jingga, gave birth in the early hours of Wednesday, June 14th. Jingga, 13 years-old, came to the zoo in 2017 from Barcelona, while the baby’s father, Kawan, joined her last year. Kawan, also 13, came from Apenheul Zoo in the Netherlands and was immediately popular among the female orangutans, according to zookeepers.
🦧 BABY BORNEAN ORANGUTAN BORN 🦧
We’re delighted to announce the birth of our first critically endangered Bornean orangutan for over 20 years! pic.twitter.com/KG7Ez8AXvz
— Blackpool Zoo (@BlackpoolZoo) June 30, 2023
“One of our resident females, Summer, was the last baby to be born here, and we have been working hard to create a breeding group to help safeguard the future of this magnificent species. Kawan’s arrival marked the beginning of a new start after our previous male, Ramon, moved to a group in Germany that was more suited to him for breeding,” Webster adds.
The researchers explain that the decision to bring Kawan to Blackpool Zoo was made after extensive consultations with experts from the European Endangered Species Program, as well as specialist keepers from the U.K. and other countries.
“Ramon settled in well in his new family and has now become a father himself, so we are delighted that the move was a huge success for both collections,” Webster says.
The zoo is now asking the newborn’s fans to chime in and give the little boy a name! In a post on Facebook, zoo officials have started a fundraiser, asking for a small donation to the Orangutan Foundation in exchange for a chance to name the baby orangutan.
Zoo officials note the charity “works tirelessly to save these critically endangered species by protecting their habitats, working with local communities, and promoting research and education.”
South West News Service writer Ashley Pemberton contributed to this report.