A Christmas Gift: Critically Endangered Orangutan Born At Brookfield Zoo

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Zoological Society announced Friday the birth of a Bornean orangutan at Brookfield Zoo.

The Bornean orangutan was born Tuesday, Dec. 20 to the zoo’s 35-year-old orangutan, Sophia. This is Sohpia’s sixth offspring and the fourth for Ben, the sire.

“The birth is significant to the zoo population, but hopefully it will also help raise awareness about the threats facing orangutans in the wild,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for CZS.

The male infant is currently behind-the-scenes bonding with his mother, according to the zoo, and being monitored by the animal care staff “to ensure that he is healthy and meeting crucial developmental milestones.”

The zoo expects the infant and other members of the orangutan family in their habitat at Tropic World: Asia, in the next few weeks for visitors to see.

Orangutans are critically endangered, the zoo said. In the wild, they face issues of deforestation, illegal pet trade and poaching.

The Bornean orangutan population has declined by more than 60 percent between 1950 and 2010, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Another 22 percent is expected to decrease by 2025.

The Chicago Zoological Society is a part of a program that assists in the breeding of orangutans in zoos to maintain “a healthy, self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable,” the zoo said in a statement. The pairing of Sophia and Ben was based on a recommendation by the Orangutan Species Survival Plan.

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