Orangutans welcome new baby

The baby boom at Hellabrunn Zoo shows no sign of ending. On 3 October, orangutan mum Matra gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He is now the seventh member of the orangutan group at the zoo.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/ Susanne Bihler

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/ Susanne Bihler

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/ Michael Thomas

To catch a glimpse of the new arrival, visitors will have to look closely at Matra's reddish-brown, furry coat to spot the small head resting on her chest as mum holds her newborn close to protect him from the curious eyes of onlookers. But the little one seems oblivious to all of this. Warmly snuggled on Matra's chest, he still sleeps a great deal and only moves to be suckled. While Matra is able to shield her son from the public, she can do little to avoid the gaze of Jolie and Isalie, the two youngest females in the group. The girls often keep the new mum company and steal a glance at the little one - after all it is good to see how your new playmate develops. Dad Bruno, on the other hand, usually tries to attract the attention of the visitors, because, after all, he is the boss here!

"It's nice to see how loving mum Matra is when taking care of her little one," say  zoo director Rasem Baban, delighted with the new arrival. "The other members of the group are now also well acquainted with the newborn." To give Matra retreat space to take care of her baby undisturbed, a section of the enclosure will be temporarily screened off with opaque film. "We want to create extra retreat space for Matra and the baby," explains curator Beatrix Köhler. "The first weeks of the baby's life are crucial because of the risk of infection, but we are optimistic that everything will be fine."

For 41-year-old Matra, the birth represents her fifth offspring. Her daughter Jolie also lives with her at the zoo. The father of the newborn is Bruno, the eldest orangutan at Hellabrunn. Bruno has already fathered over thirty offspring, including Jolie and Isalie. Bruno's youngest child does not yet have a name. Under Hellabrunn's Adopt an Animal programme, the sponsor of a baby animal, such as our newly born orangutan, is allowed to choose a name for the animal. By adopting an animal, the sponsor not only supports the welfare of the animal at the zoo, but also the conservation of species.

Sumatran orangutans are only found in the wild on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. They are among the most endangered species of ape on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Sumatran orangutans are expert climbers and can swing freely from tree to tree thanks to their very long arms, which can reach a span of ca. 2.2 metres.

For many years, Hellabrunn has been involved in a project with the Frankfurt Zoological Society, which operates a reintroduction station on Sumatra, in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. The station is located in the centre of Sumatra in an area where orangutans had become extinct for more than 150 years. The aim of the project is to build a lifeboat population for the Sumatra orangutan at Bukit Tigapuluh through the reintroduction of the species. Over a period of months, confiscated and orphaned animals are prepared for release into the wild. With great success. To date the project has reintroduced more than 160 orangutans.

The members of the orangutan group at Hellabrunn Zoo:

Bruno, the proud
Born 18.2.1969 at Hellabrunn Zoo
The father of Jolie and Isalie is the undisputed head of the Hellabrunn orangutan group and very self-assured.

Matra, the good-natured
Born 19.11.1975 at Nuremberg Zoo
At Hellabrunn since: 1993
Matra is an affectionate mother who cares for her offspring with love and patience.

Sitti, the friendly
Born 20.11.1989 at Frankfurt Zoo
At Hellabrunn since: 2007
Sitti, the mother of Isalie and half-sister of Jahe, likes to communicate with visitors through the glass window.

Jahe, the elegant
Born 21.4.2003 at Frankfurt Zoo
At Hellabrunn since: 2012
The slender and graceful Jahe is the fine lady among the orangutans at Hellabrunn.

Isalie, the inventor
Born 14.7.2008 at Hellabrunn Zoo
Isalie, the daughter of Bruno and Sitti, always thinks up new games in order to have fun with her best friend Jolie.

Jolie, the princess
Born 15.7.2009 at Hellabrunn Zoo
Until recently the youngest member of the Hellabrunn group, Jolie, the daughter of Bruno and Matra, is particularly pretty but also a reserved orangutan girl.