The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory announced that a baby orangutan was born in St. Paul earlier this week.
A 27-year-old Sumatran orangutan named Markisa gave birth to the 3.45-pound female at the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Medical Center on Wednesday. The infant hasn't yet been named.
"It's always exciting to have a birth at the zoo," said Eric Martin, a zookeeper in the primate department at the zoo. "This one is extra exciting because of the rarity of the orangutans and how few are left in the wild."
The baby orangutan was a Caesarean section birth — a rarity among orangutans, Martin said. This is the second time the procedure was used on Markisa. More than a dozen medical professionals helped with the surgery.
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The infant's birth raises the number of orangutans at the Como Zoo to five.
The infant is currently being bottle fed and cared for by Como Zoo primate experts. She is expected to return to the zoo within a few days. Markisa is recovering from the procedure at the zoo. Mother and daughter will be reintroduced to the zoo's orangutans over a period of days or weeks.
"We are waiting for both mom and baby to recover from the procedure," Martin said. "We''ll give them access to see and smell one another while we are still caring for the baby, and once they're fully recovered to the satisfaction of the vets and staff here, we'll start reintroducing them in the same space."
About 200 orangutans are currently living in zoos throughout the United State. Their numbers have dwindled as their native habitats in Borneo and Sumatra were transformed by logging and farming.