Baby Elka, is a Bornean orangutan, and the second baby for the Zoo's female Bornean orangutan, Kalim and father Minyak, one of two orangutan males at the Zoo. Minyak is genetically valuable because both of his parents were born in the wild which means, that he is not related to any of the other orangutans in the zoo's. Minyak passed away later that year from a respiratory illness he had since he was an infant. His daughters will carry on his valuable bloodline.
Orangutans are native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In the Malay language orangutan means "man of the forest". They have long, shaggy, orange-red hair. Males are twice the size of females with an arm span of about 7 feet. Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling mammals. Bornean orangutans are endangered and Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered. In the last 60 years, it's estimated that there has been more than a 50 percent decline in the orangutan population. This rapid decline is primarily due to illegal logging, mining, farming, palm oil plantations, and human overpopulation.
Orangutans have a close mother-offspring relationship. They are very nurturing and gentle with their young. Offspring remain with their mothers for seven to eight years. They nurse from their moms for at least the first three years of their lives until they slowly start to become more independent. Adult males are the most solitary of the apes, whereas females travel with their youngsters and at times with other females as well.
In zoos when orangutan moms are not able to care for their young for a variety of reasons, zoo keepers will step in and do everything possible to support mom and infant in hopes that the mom can overcome whatever obstacles she has, so she can care for her infant.
In January of 2014, a male Bornean orangutan named Kecil was born at the Ohio’s Toledo Zoo, but his mom showed little interest in caring for him as did a surrogate mom at Milwaukee County Zoo, where there was very little bonding.
In June of 2014, Kecil, which was then 6-month-old, was transferred to Brookfield Zoo near Chicago to be introduced to a surrogate mom, Maggie, the zoo’s 53-year-old orangutan. Maggie had experienced raising young of her own and was also a surrogate mom to another baby in the past. Maggie is calm and laid back and is also very patient, loves to play, and rarely stirs up trouble. These are some of the qualities that make her an ideal candidate to be a surrogate mom. Kecil and Maggie are a perfect match and doing very well together.
You can see a video of them by going to this link. http://www.czs.org/CZS/Kecil
To learn more about orangutans, and the palm oil plantation go to