A baby female Sumatran orangutan was born this week at the Saint Louis Zoo, though you'll have to wait at least a month before seeing her.
Merah (MEER-ah), a 45-year-old orangutan, gave birth at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Jungle of the Apes at the Saint Louis Zoo, where the baby's father, Cinta (Chin-TA), ten years old, also lives.
Bonding with the mother during first 30 days of a baby orangutan's life are vital, according to the zoo, so it will be a month or longer before zoo visitors can catch a glimpse of Merah and her baby in either their indoor habitat in Jungle of the Apes or in their outdoor habitat at Fragile Forest.
Zoo officials say mother and baby are healthy after the birth and are being monitored by a team of caretakers, veterinarians and a nutritionist. Merah's caretakers had conditioned her to allow voluntary ultrasounds by zoo veterinarians, allowing her healthcare team to monitor the baby during gestation.
"Merah is an excellent and experienced mother," says Stephanie Braccini, the Saint Louis Zoo's zoological manager of great apes. "She is carrying the infant, facilitating nursing, essentially doing everything right."
The newborn is the fifth baby for Merah, who is also a grandmother of two and a great-grandmother of one. Merah was born in the Netherlands and came to St. Louis from the Miami Metro Zoo. Merah lives at the zoo with another daughter, Rubih (RUBE-ee), who is ten years old.