Baby Razak Update
Many of our visitors have asked why Mei and her baby, Razak, have not been visible through the night house window for the last few days. Over the past several days primate keepers observed Mei repeatedly exhibiting some abnormal behaviors that could put the health of her baby at risk. We closed the window to give her more private time to bond with her baby, but the behaviors increased rather than diminished. After thorough evaluation and consultation with the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) chair and the husbandry advisor, the veterinarian and animal management staff agreed that the best solution would be for animal care staff to take over most of the baby’s daily care. This course of action is to ensure the health of the baby Razak and lower Mei’s anxiety. Animal care staff is hopeful that Mei will participate in nursing and other supervised interactions.
The decision to hand rear this infant was not an easy one for zoo management or staff. We had hoped that Mei would rear the infant on her own, but since the baby is at such a young age and still quite fragile, his health and welfare is our primary concern. It is our hope that in the coming weeks Mei will choose to take a more positive role in caring for Razak and we will be able to transition them back together full time. It is important that infant orangutans form a positive bond with other orangutans, so if Mei is unable or unwilling to care for the baby he will be introduced to his aunt, Kutai, in hopes that she will provide surrogate care.
Hand rearing an infant orangutan is different than rearing many mammals, because in order for the infant to develop properly, he must be able to constantly cling to the caregiver. This means that zoo staff will wear a vest that allows the baby to securely latch on and be carried. He will nurse if Mei is willing, and he will be given supplemental feedings of breast milk and formula. Mei readily consents to a breast pump so providing her breast milk should not be problematic.
Razak is adjusting well to this new care regime and Mei’s level of anxiety seems to be substantially lower since the baby is no longer constantly on her.
It’s A Boy!!!
Cameron Park Zoo is asking the public to help choose a name for the Zoo’s new baby orangutan and help wild orangutan babies in the process. A son was born to the zoo’s Bornean orangutan couple, Mei and KJ on January 12, 2017. The primate staff has presented three names for the public to choose from. The names are: Bawana which means “earth” or “world”; Jaka which means “young man”; and Razak which means “protector”.
The proceeds raised through the naming contest for Cameron Park Zoo’s baby orangutan will go directly to caring for his wild baby cousins in Kalimantan.
In late 2015, fires raged across Kalimantan causing widespread forest loss and devastating impacts to wildlife populations. Tragically, many baby orangutans were left orphaned after losing their mothers and forest homes to the fires. Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) teams rescued 44 baby orangutans and the Baby House facilities at both Nyaru Menteng and Samboja Lestari rescue centers filled quickly, above and beyond capacity. Urgent plans were made to build bigger Baby Houses that could shelter the many orphaned infants being cared for at these centers. Late last year BOS began construction of new Baby Houses at both Samboja Lestari and Nyaru Menteng centers and construction of both projects is expected to be finished in April 2017.
By voting for a baby name with your donation you can help provide much needed funding for supplies that will be used to care for the orangutans at the Baby Houses in Samboja Lestari and Nyaru Menteng. The details for voting will be posted on the Zoo’s Facebook page and on the Zoo’s website. The winning name will be announced Saturday, January 28th.
This is the second baby for Mei, who is 18 years old, and Kerajaan (KJ) who is 27 years old. The baby and Mei will remain in the night house to give mother and baby time to bond.