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22 December 2014, 11:13
Staff and primates at Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset have welcomed an orphaned 3-month-old Sumatran orang-utan to the family.
The tiny 3kg baby boy Bulu Mata was moved from Budapest Zoo in Hungary to Monkey World near Wareham last week.
Now at Monkey World, Bulu Mata is being introduced to his new adopted family of orang-utans, while being cared for by specialist Primate Care Staff. It is hoped that adult female orang-utan, Hsiao-quai, will not only adopt the new arrival, but also feed him. She is a wonderful mother, who has already raised two sons of her own and is currently breast-feeding another adopted 3-year-old female, Awan. The team at Monkey World are hopeful that it is only a matter of time before Hsiao-quai takes on the new baby as well.
Until then, Primate Care Staff feed and care for Bulu Mata around the clock, taking him home each evening to his very own nursery at the park. At only 15 weeks old, he is getting fed baby formula every 3-4 hours and is unable to sit up on his own. Like human babies, orang-utans are entirely dependant upon their mothers for survival but they are born with an amazing strong grip that allows them to cling onto their mother's coat while they climb through the rainforest canopy.
Born at Budapest Zoo, Bulu Mata's mother passed away a week later, so zoo staff stepped in to care for the critically endangered infant. Orang-utans have the longest "childhood" of the great apes, with infants staying with their mothers for up to 7 years. During this time the young learn all the skills they need to survive in the wild and to get on with others of their own kind. For this reason, it was critical that the baby could live and grow up with other orang-utans.
Monkey World is home to the European crèche for orphaned orang-utans and, as such, provides sanctuary for any infants or youngsters that are not cared for by their mothers. The specially designed nursery building has a gymnasium-sized playroom fitted out with climbing frames, hammocks, and ropes to encourage natural, arboreal orang-utan behaviour. Most importantly there are 6 other orang-utans living there that include orphans from UK, Spain, Taiwan, and South Africa.
Monkey World's Director, Dr Alison Cronin, said:
"Bulu Mata is a beautiful little boy who needs a family of his own kind. Here at Monkey World we specialize in rehabilitating monkeys and apes and the most important thing we can do for this tiny infant is to give him a new mother of his own kind. It is going to take some time, but the initial signs are good - orang-utan mum, Hsiao-quai, is very interested in him and even her adopted daughter, Awan, seems to like Bulu Mata.
"It should only be a matter of time before she picks him up and adopts him for good. Until then we are very happy bridging the gap caring for him and so pleased we were able to help Budapest Zoo who saved his life."