The National Zoological Park in Washington, more commonly known as the National Zoo, celebrated on Tuesday the pregnancy of Batang, a 19-year-old Bornean orangutan. The institution generated speculation over the pregnancy by publishing on Twitter a positive pregnancy test without much detail about the pregnant creature.
After further expectation among their followers, the zoo held a Facebook live ultrasound on a gleeful Batang, who is at exactly 22 weeks of her pregnancy. The gestation period of orangutans is 35 weeks, so the soon-to-be mother is expected to deliver in September of this year, as reported by the Washington Post.
During the exam, it was showed how the fetus was moving at the time of the live medical observation in the mother’s womb. However, it is unknown whether the baby will be a girl as Batang, or a boy like his father Kyle, an orangutan of the same age and species as the 19-year-old mother.
“All of our perseverance and planning paid off when we confirmed Batang’s pregnancy,” Meredith Bastian, curator of primates and member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Orangutan Species Survival Plan Steering Committee, said in a statement. “Watching her fetus develop over the past few months has been incredibly exciting, and we are making every effort to ensure our efforts come to fruition.”
The baby will be the first one in the zoo in about 25 years. The institution commented in the statement. Batang’s species has seen a decline of about 80 percent of its population in the last 75 years. The species is native to Indonesia, and their habitat has been threatened due to rainforest destruction.
The pregnancy came after two years that the female orangutan was taken off birth control. She was even trained by her caregivers to provide the conditions and attention for the baby, although if any circumstances prohibit her to continue, whether they are natural causes or unwilling, two other orangutans were trained as well to take care of the baby.
According to a press release made by the zoo, Batang has been learning through routine training sessions, and keepers presented her with a plush, bean-shaped pillow and an orangutan stuffed animal to simulate a baby.
The team trained Batang to hold the fake baby in different positions and carry it around the enclosure in a safe manner. She also learned to return the pillow baby to keepers through a specially designed “baby box” where they could retrieve it and conduct health evaluations in a more calmed manner to avoid some difficult encounters with the mother that could stress her and the baby.
Also, Batang was trained as well to use a breast pump for milk collection as a prevention if by any reason she is unable to nurse the baby successfully by herself and help from the caregivers is needed to keep the development of the baby in normal conditions.
Source: The Washington Post