Baby Orangutan Born at National Zoo (Photos)

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby orangutan, whose arrival Monday night is the first of its kind in 25 years.

Animal care staff are “cautiously optimistic” that the newborn Bornean orangutan will thrive, the zoo said in a news release Tuesday.

The zoo’s Great Ape House will remain closed to provide mom, 19-year-old Batang, a quiet space to bond with her infant. Visitors can view the zoo’s five adult orangutans outdoors or at Think Tank.

Zoo staff said they think the baby orangutan was conceived on Feb. 2. A pregnancy test for humans determined that baby’s mother was expecting. An orangutan named Kyle is the lucky dad.

News of the pregnancy was announced on Facebook in June. Some of Batang’s behavioral changes — picky eating and unwillingness to participate in training sessions —also were charted on the zoo’s social media accounts.

The baby was born at around 9 p.m. Monday.

Orangutans are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The forests that make up orangutan territory have been cleared for crops and palm oil products, reducing the population by 80 percent over the past 75 years.

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