15 Jun 2015
One-day-old baby orangutan clings to mum, Subis.

Keepers say mum Subis, 28, gave birth in the early hours of the morning following an eight-and-half-month gestation.

The new arrival – the fifth for Subis – has certainly provided cause for celebration at the zoo. Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, meaning every new addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme is vitally important. 

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said:

It was a fabulous to come in and see a tiny pair of arms clinging to Subis. She’s an excellent, very experienced mum and we know she’ll do a brilliant job of caring for her new baby.

Subis herself was born here in 1986 and has since had four other young, but this is the first Sumatran orangutan to be born here at the zoo in just under three years, so the team is absolutely thrilled.

Sumatran orangutans are found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia where it’s estimated that less than 6,500 remain. The species has come under threat due largely to the destruction of its habitat for logging, wholesale conversion of forest to palm oil plantations and hunting.

Mr Rowlands added:

To watch Subis cradling her new arrival is a truly wonderful sight and we just hope that the pair help us to raise a little more awareness of their cousins in the wild that face enormous threats on a day-to-day basis. Sadly, without continued conservation work, the Sumatran orangutan could become the first great ape to become extinct in the wild.

Subis and her baby can currently be seen in the zoo’s Realm of the Red Ape (RORA) exhibit, alongside other Sumatran orangutans Puluh, Emma, Indah, Tripa and Tuti who will all be moving into their brand new exhibit in Islands later in the year.

We’re also working with the species in the wild and our Realm of the Red Ape Conservation Programme is helping field workers in Sumatra to restore forests in which Sumatran orangutans live. As part of its Act for Wildlife programme, the zoo also supports the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project in Sumatra, which supports education work in schools close to areas where deforestation occurs and aims to teach children about the importance of preserving the biodiversity around them.

In October we’re launching our annual Go Orange for Orangutans campaign to help save the species in the wild.