The Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, so it always makes my day to see the San Diego Zoo matriarch, Indah, with her seven-month-old son, Kaja. Kaja is the first orangutan born at the zoo since 2014.
For Kaja and Indah, it was a rough start. If any of you have visited the San Diego Zoo in the past, you might remember their large male orangutan, Satu, whose dreadlocks reached the ground. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer two weeks before his son Kaja was born.
Satu’s passing sent Indah into a depression (orangutans have remarkably similar emotions to humans), which didn’t help matters, because she apparently had a rough delivery with Kaja. Zookeepers and vets had to take care of Kaja for a few months, so now that we get to see Indah cradling Kaja out in the enclosure, it is heartwarming. She can’t nurse Kaja because it took too long for her to bond with him, but luckily, she cares for him now and lets the zookeepers feed him bottles in the nursery (behind the scenes). Indah and Kaja are not out very long. I always seem to miss Kaja playing, even when I get to the zoo early; this past visit was no exception. One of the volunteers told me that Kaja had spent all morning trying to pull himself up and wore himself out–hence, the tired baby in Indah’s arms. Occasionally, I would see Kaja lift his head or squirm, but he was definitely down for the count, as you can see by his little foot dangling.
I am grateful that we have conservation programs such as the one at the San Diego Zoo. I wish I could see these creatures in the wild, but I know that would just disturb them more (and there’s not many left). So, for now, I will relish in taking photos of orangutans hanging out in man-made treetop canopies, even if it means having the poles and ropes in the way; sharing for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC) – Man-Made Items.
Not to be outdone, Aisha, who is Kaja’s eight-year-old sister, loves to show off. I think that she was trying to get Kaja’s attention, because this is what she was doing when he was watching her. She would often look at Kaja or swing up to his canopy to look at him.
To learn more about Sumatran Orangutans and conservation, check out this post on World Wildlife Fund.