High hopes for Blackpool Zoo baby boom
Keepers at Blackpool Zoo are hoping for a Bornean baby boom following the successful introduction of a new male into its family of orangutans.
Kawan, who is 12 years old, arrived from Apenheul Zoo in the Netherlands in late summer and has been an instant hit with females Cherie, Summer and Jingga.
He joined as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) after his predecessor, the much-loved Ramon, was moved to a new group in Germany.
Carefully choreographed introductions took place and he has taken to his position of alpha male very well.
In the weeks following his arrival he began to go through the expected physical changes that male orangutans experience when they become dominant; his hair is growing, he is gaining weight and his face has started to change shape as his cheek pads emerge.
Luke Minns, Section Manager for Mammals at Blackpool Zoo, is absolutely delighted to see the bonds forming between Kawan and the females.
He said: “While we were very sad to see Ramon leave us for pastures new, we were excited to start a new phase in our breeding programme following the introduction of Kawan. He is a good-natured male and Cherie, Summer and Jingga took to him straight away.
“Kawan was selected to form a breeding group at Blackpool Zoo following extensive talks with experts from the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and specialist keepers from the UK and beyond, so it is wonderful to see him integrate so well.
“He was born into, and grew up in, a family group, which puts him in a great position as he knows how the dynamics should work.
“We have seen really encouraging signs that we hope will result in some positive pregnancy tests in the not-too distant future!”
Cherie, who is 25, and Summer, who is 20, were both born at Blackpool Zoo. Jingga, who is 13, was born in Barcelona and moved to Blackpool in 2017.
The Bornean orangutan was classified as critically endangered in July 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that this species now faces an “extremely high” risk of extinction in the wild.