Baby Orangutan born at Memphis Zoo


  • Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo announced Thursday that a Sumatran orangutan was born at the zoo back in March and is doing well.

The baby boy was born to mother, Jahe, and father, Tombak. The yet-named baby was delivered via an extremely rare C-section procedure. Only 18 of the 2,224 births in the International Orangutan Studbook (the collection of data about captive orangutans) have been delivered by C-section, according to information from the zoo.

The procedure was done by Memphis obstetrician Dr. Joseph C. DeWane, a past chairman of the Memphis Zoo board of directors.

“I know every time I visit the zoo, I will make a special trip to see Jahe and her baby,” DeWane said in a statement.

Zoo veterinarians hand-reared the baby orangutan, holding it and feeding it around the clock, while Jahe recovered. Twelve days later, Jahe had recovered and, during an introduction to her baby, Jahe held him and inspected him closely.

“We had to step in temporarily to hand-rear in order to allow Jahe to recover from her surgery,” said Courtney Janney, the zoo’s curator of large mammals. “Once we were sure she was comfortable and healing well, we reintroduced the baby to his mother and she has completely taken over.”

A statement from the zoo said the birth was significant as only about 200 Sumatran orangutans are currently on exhibit across the country. The species is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the inventory of conservation statuses.

Jahe and her baby are resting behind the scenes at the zoo and won’t be on exhibit for awhile.

But zoo officials want the public to help them name the baby. Caretakers have chosen five names - Jasper, Kalbu, Rowan, Bijak, and Flynn - and want the public to vote on their favorite in an online poll at

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