By Gil Tanenbaum
An new orangutan was born at the Ramat Gan Safari Park. This was the first such birth seen in Israel in 11 years. The baby girl has yet to be named.
“We are very happy with this little orange and important addition and now we are looking for a name for her,” declared the Safari.
The baby orangutan was actually born earlier this month. But the news was released now because the bay was covered up for a few weeks within her mother’s fur. Tanna, the mother, revealed her baby to Safari staffers for the first time only recently. The 12-year-old Tanna gave birth two weeks ago.
So why did Tanna wait until now to reveal her baby? The Safari explains that since Tanna now feels safer and calmer, she is secure enough to let her daughter pull away from her body. The Safari is now observing what it describes as their own tradition of “maternity leave” for apes. During this time they exercise caution and for about two weeks keep the yard peaceful and offer the orangutans regular supervision.
“Great excitement enthralled the ape ward caregivers as the tiny orangutan, who was still attached to the umbilical cord, was observed between the blankets in the yard as his mother, Tana, guarded, nursed and warmed him,” said Safari officials. “The caregivers, who closely monitored the pregnancy, made sure that everything went well and that they are now supervising, checking and continuing to monitor.”
Because this is Tana’s first litter, her inexperience in motherhood adds to the concern of her caretakers. They are said to be on a vigilant watch, are attentive to her needs, and make sure everything is in order.
During Tanna’s pregnancy, there was a great deal of concern among the staff at the Safari as to how the fighting during “The Guardian of the Walls” operation in Gaza a few months ago might have had an effect on her. Hamas launched missiles at the Tel Aviv area and one even hit the Ramat Gan Safari.
The missile fell within the zoo complex, between their black macaque monkey yard and the orangutan monkeys and the gibbons. Fortunately, the damage was limited to structures alone and no animals were harmed.
The baby’s father is Rachamim (mercy in Hebrew) who just so happens to be the last orangutan born in captivity in Israel. His parents Rachela and Mushon were already very old at the time of his birth. His elderly mother Rachela passed away when he was only 7 years old and Rachamim was still close to her at the time.
In a story reminiscent of how Abraham finding a wife for his son Isaac after the death of Sarah, the Safari decided to bring in two female orangutans to comfort Rachamim in his grief. But the Safari also did this with the intention of trying to breed new orangutans, who are an endangered species.
The two young females brought to Rachamim were Sato and Tana. They came from a zoo in Germany. At first, it seemed that Rachamim’s father Mushon would be the one to mate with them and keep his family line alive. Mushon was the one seen courting the two new females enthusiastically. But Rachamim seemed to be too shy.
It was not until after Mushon passed away at the very respectable age of 50, that things changed. The Safari explains that Rachamim’s caregivers took care of him and, in the absence of his father, he began to get closer to the females. Rachamim was older at this point and so he showed signs of maturity. Three years later he developed a very close relationship with Tana and then she conceived.
“The orangutans at the safari are ambassadors to their brethren in the wild, who are in grave danger of extinction.” Said the Safari. “The main thing threatening them is the disappearance of their habitats, as well as the abduction of their babies who are unfortunately sold as pets and usually do not survive.”
The Safari points out that by the year 2030 an estimated 4,000 more orangutans are expected to disappear from the world, due to the rate of destruction of their current habitats.