Congrats, Kitra! Oregon Zoo orangutan becomes first-time mom after giving birth

Orangutan Kitra holds her newborn baby. The 20-year-old first-time mom gave birth Wednesday...
Orangutan Kitra holds her newborn baby. The 20-year-old first-time mom gave birth Wednesday morning.(Photo by Scott Jackson, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.)
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 9:53 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The Oregon Zoo has a new member of the primate family after Bornean orangutan Kitra gave birth this week.

The first-time mom welcomed the newborn on Wednesday at around 11 a.m. The zoo said the 20-year-old mom and her new arrival, who does not yet have a name, are doing well in their behind-the-scenes maternity den.

“We’re all pretty excited about it,” said Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo’s primate area. “It’s great to see Kitra taking such good care of her baby. There’s still a lot that could happen, so we’re being very cautious and giving her as much quiet time as possible. But so far she seems to be taking to motherhood quite well.”

The zoo said Kitra’s care team worked with her throughout her pregnancy to help her prepare for motherhood, including training her for voluntary ultrasounds so vet staff could closely monitor her progress. Using orangutan stuffies made by zoo volunteers, they taught her how to hold her baby properly to nurse, and how to present her baby to care staff once she feels ready, so they can check on the young orangutan’s health and well-being.

Caregivers won’t know whether the newborn is male or female for a few weeks, the zoo said.

Kitra and her baby are off-view in a private maternity area to allow the new family a comfortable place to bond. The zoo said animal-care staff have taken a hands-off approach, but are closely monitoring the pair to make sure everything continues to go well.

“We will be watching to assess their progress,” Gilmore said. “The first few days are especially critical. Our care staff and veterinary team have been dedicated to giving Kitra everything she needed for a successful birth. Thankfully, she hasn’t needed much help from us so far. She’s been doing a great job by herself.”

Once the pair are feeling comfortable and healthy, the zoo said animal-care staff will determine whether they are ready for a public debut.

Kitra moved to the Oregon Zoo in 2015 from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, joining male orangutan Bob, the baby’s father, who had arrived from South Carolina’s Greenville Zoo the previous year.