15 June 2015

Six-week-old female ape Siska, who was born in September to mum Subis, was given her new moniker after staff confirmed her gender.

Siska shares her name with a specialist orangutan vet from Indonesia who first spotted the new baby clinging to her mum on the morning she was born. Vet Siska Sulistyo, who normally works in sanctuaries in South East Asia, has spent three months in Chester working alongside the zoo’s resident veterinary team as part of an initiative to exchange knowledge and skills.

Six-week-old Sumatran orangutan Siska clings to mum Subis

Chris Yarwood, lead keeper at Chester Zoo, said:

Siska has been named after an Indonesian vet who is spending some time working with our animal health teams here at the zoo. She was the very first person to spot our new arrival the morning she was born, so we thought it was a fitting name particularly given the vital conservation work that her team carry out in South East Asia with a range of endangered species. 

Sumatran orangutans are being pushed dangerously close to extinction every day and, as it stands, they are one of the world’s most endangered species. 

Siska is a very special addition to both the zoo and the European-wide breeding programme which aims to have a healthy safety-net population of the species in case the worst should happen, extinction in the wild.

It’s estimated that less than 6,500 Sumatran orangutans now remain in the wild as a result of destruction of habitat for logging, wholesale conversion of forest to palm oil plantations, fragmentation caused by roads and hunting.

Siska, alongside mum Subis and the zoo’s other Sumatran orangutans Puluh, Emma, Indah, Tripa and Tuti will all be moving into a brand new home at the our £40m Islands development later in the year. 

Through our Realm of the Red Ape Conservation Programme, Chester Zoo is helping field workers in Borneo to restore forests in which orangutans live. The zoo also backs the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project in Sumatra, which provides education workshops in schools close to areas where deforestation occurs, aiming to teach children about the importance of preserving the biodiversity where they live.

This month, we launched our annual Go Orange campaign which aims to protect Bornean and Sumatran orangutans in the wild. For more about how you can help here or to make a donation now text ORNG15 £5 to 70070.

Sumatran orangutan facts

  • Scientific name: Pongo abelii
  • Research suggests that there are approximately 6,500 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild
  • There has been a dramatic decline of 80% of the species population over the last 75 years
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classes the species as critically endangered
  • This species is seriously threatened by logging (both legal and illegal), wholesale conversion of forest to agricultural land and oil palm plantations, fragmentation by roads and hunting