An endangered Sumatran orangutan at the New Orleans zoo is expecting twins

A New Orleans Zoo Zoo Sumatran Orangutan is expecting twins
Click to enlarge the image and toggle caption Susan Poag/Digital Roux Photographer Susan Poag/Digital Roux Photographer

New Orleans' Audubon Zoo will welcome two new members to its family this winter, including a species that many wildlife groups consider critically endangered.

Menari, the 12-year-old Sumatran Sumatran orangutan at the zoo, is expecting twins. Jambi is the zoo’s male orangutan. The announcement was made Thursday.

Menari's first births are anticipated sometime in December or January.

In a press release, Bob MacLean, Senior Veterinarian at the Zoo, stated that they are "very excited about this pregnancy".

MacLean stated that twinning in orangutans is very rare, with only 1% of the chance of it ever happening.

According to zoo officials, twins were born to Sarah Bon Temps aka Bonnie and Lagniappe aka Lana at the same zoo.

Lana is still living and can be found at the Greenville Zoo, South Carolina. Bonnie died in 2016 at Zoo Miami.

Although she has never had a baby, Menari, according to zoo officials, was able observe Feliz, her mother, giving birth and raising Bulan, her half-sister, in 2019.

Click to enlarge the image and toggle caption Susan Poag/Digital Roux Photographer Susan Poag/Digital Roux Photographer

Menari is being trained by staff to become a mother. Staff will also be available to assist with newborn care if needed.

"The bond between orangutans and their young is one of the strongest in nature. Jan Vertefeuille, World Wildlife Fund, wrote an email to NPR. He stated that orangutans spend more time with their mothers than other mammals. Female orangutans will also continue to visit their mothers into their teens."

Vertefeuille claims that the bond between orangutans, their children and their mothers, is a factor in species extinction. However, it is more likely for mother orangutans to be killed than their children when poachers are looking for illegal wildlife trade babies.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, habitat loss and pet trade are two of the greatest threats to the survival of orangutan species around the globe.

As palm oil plantations have spread into their natural habitats, it is believed that less than 14,000 Sumatran Orangutans remain wild.

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