It's an Orangutan! National Zoo Announces Pregnancy

The first-time mother-to-be is being taught how to handle an infant and use a breast pump.

A zoo baby is on the way!

For the first time in 25 years, a baby orangutan is expected at the Smithsonian National Zoo, zookeepers announced Tuesday afternoon as they conducted an ultrasound live on Facebook.

The zoo said Monday that an animal was pregnant, but kept the breed a secret until 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The 19-year-old endangered Bornean orangutan Batang is pregnant after she was bred in January with Kyle, another of the six orangutans at the zoo. Zoo veterinarians conducted a human pregnancy test on Batang in February and found it was positive.

“Watching her fetus develop over the past few months has been incredibly exciting, and we’re making every effort to ensure our efforts come to fruition," primates curator Meredith Bastian said in a statement.

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Smithsonian National Zoo
Smithsonian National Zoo workers conducted an ultrasound of the pregnant orangutan live on Facebook

Batang's baby is due in mid-September. The zoo cautions that just like with any birth, miscarriage, stillbirth or a complication could occur.

The first-time mom-to-be is being trained to care for an infant. Keepers taught her how to hold a "plush, bean-shaped pillow" upright and how to hand it to keepers when she is asked. She also has been trained to use a breast pump, in the event that she is unable to nurse.

“This training is especially important for a first-time mother, like Batang," assistant primates curator Becky Malinsky said in the statement. "It is our goal for the infant to be raised by her mother, learning how to be an orangutan from Batang and the other orangutans at the zoo."

Orangutans are native to Indonesia and live in the tropical rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, the zoo says. Some of their habitat has been destroyed because of growing human demand for palm oil products, pulp wood and food crops, according to the zoo.

Visitors to the zoo can see Batang and the other six orangutans at the Great Ape House and in the Think Tank. For more information, see the zoo's website.

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