Philadelphia Zoo Sadly Announces Death of Sumatran Orangutan Newborn

(Philadelphia, PA) - July 11, 2017 --- Philadelphia Zoo announced today that a baby Sumatran orangutan born July 9 did not survive. Although the baby appeared to behave normally through the afternoon and early evening of its birth, it died overnight.

“In an initial postmortem examination we identified severe congestion in the newborn’s lungs and a possible congenital heart defect,” said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, Philadelphia Zoo’s Director of Animal Health. “We will likely be able to confirm the exact cause of death after the full necropsy results are available, which will take approximately four to six weeks,” said Hinshaw.

The infant was born to 25-year-old Tua at about 2:45 PM on July 9. The infant’s father was 22-year-old Sugi. The pair’s daughter, 8-year-old Batu, still lives with her parents in the Zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve. There are approximately 85 Sumatran orangutans currently living in AZA accredited zoos across the country.

Tua, an experienced mother, delivered the baby without any need for intervention from the Zoo’s staff or the team of consultants who were prepared to assist if any problems arose. The team of professionals, from the veterinary and human medical field, include an ob-gyn, surgeons, anesthesiologists and others, from leading area institutions such as University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. This includes many of the same team that assisted in successful delivery of the Zoo’s new western lowland gorilla baby in June. 

“Zoo staff and volunteers are saddened by this unexpected loss. With Tua’s parenting skills and the apparently successful delivery, we were optimistic about this birth,” said Dr. Andy Baker, the Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer. “The keepers who work with the orangutans every day are affected deeply themselves, but will also be watching Tua closely for how she reacts to this loss. Animals are individuals, and we don’t know how this will affect her,” said Baker.

“Although this is a sad loss, it is also a reminder that we are all responsible for the fate of orangutans in the wild on Sumatra and Borneo,” said Baker.

Sumatran orangutans are considered critically endangered, with fewer than 15,000 individuals thought to survive. Orangutans (along with tigers, gorillas and other animals living in tropical forests) are losing habitat as plantations for palm oil expand to meet growing global demand. Palm oil is the world’s most widely produced vegetable oil. It can be found in more than 50% of the foods we eat as well as our soaps, lotions, shampoos, cleaning products, and cosmetics. Please join the Zoo in thanking and supporting companies who are moving toward sustainably-sourced palm oil. Send a message from the UNLESS Project on our website.

 Animals are on the move like never before at Philadelphia Zoo with Zoo360, a first-in-the-world system of see-through trails passing through treetops, crossing over pathways and connecting habitats, giving animals like amazing big cats, majestic primates and marvelous meerkats the opportunities to travel and explore. Visit our new baby western lowland gorilla, giraffes, hippos, polar bear, white rhino, zebras, red pandas, Amur tigers and more at America’s first Zoo. Explore our 42 acre Victorian garden and enjoy award-winning exhibits like KeyBank Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve, McNeil Avian Center and KidZooU, a wildlife academy that offers dynamic displays, rare breeds and hands-on experiences.  Philadelphia Zoo is the second highest ticketed attraction in Philadelphia, one of the region's foremost conservation organizations and home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats. The Zoo welcomed more than 1.25 million visitors last year. Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Philadelphia Zoo is a non-smoking facility.
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