Tara, a Sumatran orangutan at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, delivered a healthy baby girl on November 22. Zoo staff named the baby Asmara, which means “love,” and she is the first Sumatran orangutan born at any zoo in the United States in 2014. Asmara represents a significant addition to the population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, and the zoo has received many questions on Facebook and Twitter about this special little ape.
Here are the answers to 7 Frequently Asked Questions about baby Asmara:
Q: When can people see the baby?
A: Mom Tara and baby Asmara are getting to know one another and only limited zoo staff are permitted to see them. This is to allow quiet bonding time for the pair. We expect that Tara and Asmara will be out on exhibit when the zoo reopens on April 25.
Q: Will the new baby stay in Fort Wayne?
A: Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo participates in the Species Survival Program managed by the AZA. As such, we work with the program to ensure genetic diversity in zoos and sometimes animals are called to live elsewhere. While we don’t know all that the future will hold, we do know that orangutans mature slowly and Tara’s baby will require maternal care for the next 6-8 years.
Q: Where are Asmara and Tara right now?
A: They’re currently living in the orangutan bedrooms, which are adjacent to the orangutan exhibit. They share a bedroom separate from the other orangutans.
Q: Do the zoo keepers get to hold and feed the baby?
A: Zoo keepers have not fed Asmara, nor have they handled her. Tara is doing everything she should to care for her baby, including nursing.
Q: Who delivered Asmara?
A: Zoo keepers observed Tara’s delivery in case of complications but did not assist. Tara delivered her baby on her own.
Q: Has Tengku met his baby yet?
A: Tara has been in a separate bedroom from adult orangutans Tengku (Asmara’s father) and Melati since about a week before giving birth. All the orangutans have had visual and auditory contact the entire time, through labor, delivery and afterwards. Both Tengku and Melati are interested in the baby.
Q: Will all the orangutans ever be allowed to share the same space?
A: Yes, eventually. When zoo keepers do start introductions, it will be gradual through a mesh barrier first and then physical contact in the behind-the-scenes area. The current plan will be to introduce Tengku with Tara and Asmara first and then to introduce Melati to the group.
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital. Click on the photos to enlarge: