Orangutans are gentle apes with unique orange or reddish-brown fur and soft, large, soulful eyes. They are among humankind’s closest relatives and share almost 98% of the same DNA with us. It’s no wonder that where they are from, the jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia, they are called “orang hutan,” which in English translates to “person of the forest.” Most of their lives are spent living up off the ground, high up in the tree canopy, which provides all of the food, water, shelter and protection they really need. They are incredibly clever and curious, and beyond their natural wild instincts, they also possess the ability to both think and reason.
Perhaps it is because they are so smart, and their habits so unique, that people love to watch and interact with them. Their gentle nature and soulful eyes draw our attention in and we’re able to connect with them on another level because, in a sense, they are a reflection of ourselves. The story behind this video is one that many women can relate to and the pregnant ape seen in it is named Dana. She’s a twenty five year old Sumatran orangutan in the care of the Durrell Wildlife Conservative Trust. In the clip she is seen giving birth to a healthy baby girl. The amazing footage is the first time ever that an orangutan birth has been captured on film and the miracle is absolutely an incredible one to witness. A note of caution, the amazing moment is also quite graphic and all-natural, especially in the beginning, so be forewarned.
Right after delivering her own child, Dana comforted and held the newborn close. She cleaned her daughter off and while it may appear nasty through our human eyes, she’s doing exactly what mother nature intended. She’s a natural born mother and shortly after the birth she proudly showed off and introduced her child to staff at the center.
Part of what makes this story so special is that Dana has given birth once before and was previously pregnant back in 2009. Sadly, she experienced life threatening complications that resulted in the loss of her baby and the infant was stillborn. The high risk pregnancy also resulted in the blockage of her fallopian tubes which left her infertile. Thanks to the help and dedication of a team of experts led by Neil MacLachlan, the Head Obstetrician at Jersey General Hospital, Dana was able to conceive again. Towards the end of 2012 she was pregnant once again and the father of her baby was a 28 year old dominant male named Dagu who lives alongside her. You can hear him in the background of the video making noises in response to his newborns cries and he must have been one proud dad!
There are only 2 species of orangutan in the world. One type is native to the island of Borneo and is called the Bornean orangutan and the other is found in the Sumatran rainforests of Indonesia and is called the Sumatran orangutan. In addition, there are hybrid types that have been born in captivity. Currently, orangutans are one of the most critically endangered species out of all of the great apes. There are only an estimated 40,000 left in the wild, down from over 60,000 just 10 years ago. Rampant exploitation of the forests and land they live on by palm oil plantations has led their rapid demise. Without continued efforts and more help in the form of monetary support and volunteers to raise awareness, they may soon become extinct. The birth of baby Kea will go a long way in helping to raise awareness about the plight of orangutans and hopefully people can come together to save one of our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, before it’s too late.