Second baby orangutan born at the Zoo!

Ibu and her newborn baby.

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The El Paso Zoo & Botanical Gardens is thrilled to welcome the birth of another Sumatran orangutan.

On June 9, 2022 the Zoo welcomed a new baby male orangutan. With the help of his mother Ibu his keepers named him Zaini, meaning cheerful; pretty; beautiful. This marks the second orangutan birth at the El Paso Zoo for parents Ibu and Butch. Their first daughter, Khaleesi, was born about 7 years ago and is still at the El Paso Zoo.

Baby Sumatran orangutan born at the El Paso Zoo on June 9, 2022.

“Sumatran orangutans are among the most critically endangered primates in the world. The threat to the orangutan population is the loss of forest habitat as it is converted to palm oil plantations, mining, road clearing, legal and illegal logging, forest fires, and hunting,” said El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano. “Today, there are an estimated 14,000 orangutans in the wild, with numbers continuing to drop at an alarming rate. It is estimated that orangutans will be extinct from the wild within the next 10 years, so every animal we add to the captive population is a very significant birth.”

Zoo staff worked with Ibu throughout her pregnancy to help her prepare for her second birth, but the 30-year-old orangutan did not need much help. “Even though Ibu’s belly was bigger than when she was pregnant with Khaleesi, delivery seemed to be a breeze. Around noon she was observed coming off the exhibit and went to her bedroom as if nothing was going on and to our surprise when we went to feed her around 3 p.m. she had her baby!” said El Paso Zoo Asia Collections Supervisor Griselda Martinez. “The baby was clinging on, nursing, and has a fuzzy little tuff of blondish hair all around its face and body. Ibu is an amazing and awesome mom! We just love her so much.”

Big sister Khaleesi watching her father Butch.

Staff report that as predicted, big sister, Khaleesi, is not thrilled with the addition of her new sibling. Ibu’s attention is primarily on the baby, so Khaleesi has been acting out and exhibiting jealousy, throwing tantrums, trying to poke at the new sibling with her finger, not listening to her mother’s cues, etc. Ibu has had to step in a few times to discipline Khaleesi and remind her that she is not the baby anymore and teach her about boundaries.

The females (Ibu and Khaleesi) and new baby will have access to the exhibit yard from 9 a.m. to noon, then after lunch, they will switch access to the outside yard with Butch. Once the baby gets a little older and familiar with the exhibit, the Orangutan family will be all out on exhibit together.

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