Adelaide zoo is hoping to support 34-year-old orangutan Karta through her pregnancy as she has lost six infants in the past
Thursday 8 December 2016 03.04 GMT
A Sumatran orangutan at Adelaide zoo has fallen pregnant, despite being on contraceptives.
Karta the 34-year-old orangutan is due early in 2017. Jodie Ellen, a senior primate keeper, announced the “exciting but nerve-wracking” news on the zoo’s Facebook page. “It wasn’t a planned pregnancy,” she said. “Mother Nature actually intervened.”
Karta has lost six infants since 1995. Most recently, in 2014, she gave birth to a stillborn. The zoo said it was going ahead with the pregnancy because Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered. “We are doing everything we can in our power to support her in this pregnancy,” Ellen said.
Cameras have been installed to monitor Karta during the lead-up to the birth, and the zoo was prepared to train her to breastfeed, which she has struggled with in the past.
“It’s a very stressful time for all of us,” Ellen said. “We all desperately want this to be a positive outcome, and we all hope for the best.”
It is estimated that there are only about 7,000 orangutans left in the rainforests in Sumatra, Indonesia, and that population continues to decline by as many as 1,000 a year. The greatest threat to the species is habitat loss.
Karta was born in July 1982 at San Diego Zoo and arrived in Adelaide in November 1992. The zoo describes her as a “strong and independent, 21st-century woman”. She is one of its three Sumatran Orangutans.