A UK zoo is celebrating the birth of a Borneo orangutan – the first birth of this critically endangered animal in 20 years.
Male Borneo orangutan, born earlier this month in Blackpool Zoo in the UK, will make her public debut this weekend after spending two weeks with her mother.
Animal rights groups say the species is in decline, which is why the zoo says it has made breeding efforts to ensure its survival.
Through its membership in the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), the zoo last year introduced a 13-year-old male Borneo orangutan named Kawan along with two other females. Kawan, who is from Apenheul Zoo in the Netherlands, fathered the new lemur with Jingga, a 13-year-old female who arrived in Blackpool in 2017 from her birthplace in Barcelona.
The new-born baby has yet to be named.
‘The baby is very special’
Zoo officials hope the birth will usher in a new generation of Borneo orangutans to be born at the zoo.
“The arrival of this very special baby is great news, not only for us at Blackpool Zoo but for the species as a whole,” Blackpool Zoo Director Darren Webster said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to create a breeding team to help protect the future of this amazing species.”
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Borneo orangutan is critically endangered
The Borneo orangutan was classified as critically endangered in July 2016 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means the species faces an “extremely high” risk of extinction in the wild.
World Wildlife Fund estimated that the Borneo orangutan population has declined more than 50% in the last 60 years due to habitat destruction of species due to logging and hunting. Currently, an estimated 104,700 Borneo orangutans are still alive in the wild, where they reside mainly in lowland rainforests and montane forests.
Visitors may soon see orangutans
Blackpool Zoo’s new Borneo orangutan was born on June 14. Since then, the orangutan enclosure has been closed to the public to allow it and its first-time mother to bond.
The attraction will reopen on Saturday to visitors.
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Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta.