Friday, June 24, 2016

Teaching an Orangutan to Breast Pump
By Robin Wright
On June 13th, the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C., tweeted a tantalizing photo of a pregnancy stick. The test was positive. The zoo urged followers to visit its Facebook page at two the next afternoon to find out which animal, from among its three hundred species, was expecting a baby. Thousands did so. In a live video feed, zookeepers led viewers through the nonpublic alleys and cages of the Great Ape House until they reached Batang, a nineteen-year-old orangutan with soulful eyes and shaggy auburn hair who likes to craft makeshift hats from old sheets and towels. She is also well trained—and knows who has the treats. Amanda Bania, a primate keeper, fed grapes to Batang through the cage with one hand as she rubbed a gelled-up ultrasound probe across Batang’s belly with the other. The images of a fetus on a laptop monitor were clear.
“We’re looking at the top of the head,” a zoo veterinarian explained. Batang stuck her long tongue out for another grape.

The baby, due in September, is Batang’s first. For the National Zoo, it’s the first pregnancy of an orangutan—one of the world’s endangered species—in a quarter century. The population of orangutans in the wild has plummeted by eighty per cent in the past seventy-five years. The pregnancy has been more than a decade in the planning, courtesy of a great-ape version of 
Read on....

No comments:

Post a Comment