The first orangutan ever conceived using a technique called assisted reproduction was born at a Connecticut conservation center earlier this year in a breakthrough that could help the species stave off extinction, the refuge announced.
The baby male orangutan was born in his mother Maggie’s favorite yellow wheelbarrow on May 20 at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, the center said. Maggie and other orangutans at the center dote on the infant, who hasn’t been named yet.
The ape infant was the first-ever orangutan conceived using assisted reproduction, a veterinary procedure similar to artificial insemination. Researchers at major universities and zoos have tried unsuccessfully for decades to impregnate an orangutan using the technique, the center says.
The center said the birth is part of an initiative to “recycle” the genes of zoo animals with those in wild populations to increase genetic diversity.
The breakthrough could help protect populations of orangutans, an endangered species that could be extinct in its natural habitat within the next 25 years, the center says.
“We are proud to contribute to the continued existence of this gentle, intelligent species,” said Marcella Leone, the center’s director. “The science here could redefine the ways conservationists and scientists approach wildlife preservation in the future.”
The center said a second orangutan is pregnant by assisted reproduction.
The center is asking for help naming the baby orangutan. You can submit your suggestion by clicking here.