By Beth Py-Lieberman | smithsonian.com | June 14, 2016
The female named Batang should deliver her new infant in mid-September
It’s official. For the first time in 25 years, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is expecting a baby orangutan. The new baby should arrive by mid-September.
The news was made official today when the mother orang received an ultrasound and the entire event was broadcast live on Facebook.
Batang, the female Bornean orangutan mated with the male, Kyle, in January and the Zoo reports that ongoing ultrasounds over the past several months have shown “fetal growth and development.”
Zoo keepers have been training the expectant mom with a plush baby orang and bean-shaped pillow so that she knows well how to care for her new infant. They have taught her to “carry it around the enclosure and return the pillow baby to keepers through a specially designed ‘baby box’ when asked,” according to an official release.
The Zoo also reports that should the first-time Mom prove unable to care for her infant that they have more experienced female orangs, Bonnie and Iris, at the ready to substitute as surrogate moms.
“Training increases the likelihood that orangutan mothers will care for their infants,” said assistant curator of primates Becky Malinsky in a release. “This training is especially important for a first time mother, like Batang. It is our goal for the infant to be raised by her mother.”
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