Friday, February 8, 2013

The Orangutan Saga

Inspired by Scriptor Senex’s Friday Rambles, I thought I’d share this piece of local “zooborn” news with you:

Orangutan baby Saga, born at Borås Zoo 14 January 2013, was presented to the world this week.
Photos from www.bt.se (above) and mynewsdesk.com (below)

Ännu en orangutangfödsel i Borås Djurpark

The proud parents of the new baby are Sabine and Baku. They are Borneo orangutans; an endangered species. (There is also a Sumatran kind, even more endangered.)

Mummy Sabine is 26 years old and has been living at Borås Zoo since 1990. Little Saga is her fifth child and was born in the night without any human assistance.

Sabina had her first baby in 1996 – Sol. She got quite a lot of attention at her birth because she was the first orangutan born in Sweden. Sol now lives in the Vienna Zoo in Austria, and two brothers of hers have also gone off to live in other zoos. Saga’s sister Storma, born in November 2008, is still living “at home” though.

Daddy Baku came from London Zoo in 2000 and is the father of both Storma and Saga.

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My own photos from summer 2009:
Above: Baku and son (I assume).
Below: Sabine and Storma.

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Not easy to find any privacy in a zoo! I remember feeling rather like an intruder, taking this photo… (Sorry, Sabine.)

Baku sometimes draws a piece of sackcloth over his head for a blanket and (presumably) to try and escape from people’s gazes. Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates; they use a variety of sophisticated tools and in the wild they construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage.

Once back in 2006 Baku managed somehow to escape from his cage and attacked a zookeeper (who survived but lost some of her toes and a finger). Normally the animal keepers are never in the same room with the orangutans so in this case there was some (technical?) mistake involved in connection with letting him in or out between cage/outdoor enclosure.

File:Malay Archipelago Orang-Utan attacked by Dyaks.jpg

Wood drawing by Joseph Wolf (1869) (Wikipedia)

Baku lives together with Sabine and their kids though, which seems to work for them even though this is not quite natural behaviour in the wild. Orangutans are the most solitary of the great apes, with social bonds occurring primarily between mothers and their dependent offspring, who stay close together for the first two years. The mother will carry the infant during traveling, as well as feed it and sleep with it. For the first four months, the infant never relieves physical contact with the mother.

The Malay/Indonesian name Orang Hutan was originally not used to refer to apes, but to forest-dwelling humans.

PS. Read more about our zoo here:
It All Started With One Lion (2011/08)
 

10 comments:

  1. that baby is so ugly he is adorable and oh so cute. can't say the same for the parents. LOL... and I did not know that about the word referring to humans.

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  2. Much as I abhor the keeping of wild animals in captivity it does allow for some endangered species to survive and people to be able to see animals that they would never otherwise see and hopefully make them more sympathetic towards them.

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    1. GB, most of the animals in our zoo are more or less endangered species. It all started with one man bringing home one abandoned lion cub (whose mother had been shot) from Africa. I told the story in a post back in 2011, It all started with one lion. (As an afterthought, I also added that link in a PS at the bottom of this post.)

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  3. I am not sure who also reads your blog, but I thought that this time it would be fine to add my experience to this post. Several times I have seen orangutans in the wild in Borneo. You said that they are considered solitary, but when I saw them they were always travelling in groups. It is a tragic fact that their land is being taken and used for agriculture. Most Asian people do not have the same attitude to wild animals that Europeans do. And the country must become economically viable. These animals should have a safe life, but how it can happen is an unanswered question.

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    1. Louise, I welcome the addition of your experience. I just added a few details from Wikipedia to what was said in the Swedish news articles. It was pointed out that adult males tend to live alone and it's mostly the female who has a strong bond to the offspring until their adulthood. But I guess when there are only two adults and their children in a zoo, they don't have much choice when it comes to choosing their company!
      I'm not sure we really have all that much to boost about in Europe compared to Asia, we have our own endangered species, like wolves - which we also have in our zoo. People don't want them extinct but no one wants them as 'next-door-neighbours' in the wild either...

      Most of the animals in our zoo are more or less endangered species. It all started with one man bringing home one abandoned lion cub (whose mother had been shot) from Africa. I just added at the bottom of this post a link to an old post from 2011 that tells the story.

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    2. An interesting debate, Louise. I suspect the 'respect' we give animals here in Europe, such as it is, is only because we aren't competing with them for food. If I got all the food for my family from an allotment and there were Elephants in the area I'd soon be wanting the Elephants moved on or disposed of. For so many people it's an Us or Them situation and we will generally put our own lives first.

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  4. Thanks for this post...great news that your zoo has a new baby orangutan.
    Like GB, I do not like that animals are held in captivity, but alas, that is the only way that some of them survive, and stay of the endangered animal list.
    Visiting a zoo is the only way that I will have the opportunity to see these lovely creatures close up and observe their habits from a safe distance.

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    1. Yes Virginia, I agree about that too. Most of the animals in our zoo are more or less endangered species. It all started with one man bringing home one abandoned lion cub (whose mother had been shot) from Africa. I just added at the bottom of this post a link to an old post from 2011 that tells the story.

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  5. It doesn't surprise me about their intelligence...the babies look almost human. And yet we do have to be careful, it is easy to forget how dangerous they are.

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