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Blaze the Sumatran orangutan is expecting
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First-time mom’s condition will be monitored closely

ATLANTA – June 27, 2012 – Blaze, a 16-year-old Sumatran orangutan at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting her second infant. Should the pregnancy progress as hoped, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams expect a birth in mid to late January 2013. The infant would be the first surviving offspring of Blaze and 33-year-old Benny.

Orangutan gestation averages 8.5 months. While all pregnancies carry a degree of risk, Blaze’s condition will be monitored especially closely, as her first infant, delivered in August 2011, did not survive. Blaze has been trained to participate in voluntary ultrasounds so that veterinarians can monitor her progress regularly over the coming months.

While all births are significant, a newborn Sumatran orangutan would be a crucial new addition to a critically endangered species. Now believed to number fewer than 6,000 in the wild, Sumatran orangutan populations have declined drastically in recent years as a result of habitat conversion to palm oil plantations, over-harvesting of timber and human encroachment. Without targeted conservation efforts, experts predict that the species could be extinct in the wild within 10 years.

Zoo Atlanta houses the nation’s largest zoological collection of orangutans, with 13 individuals, and is home to both the Sumatran and Bornean species. Lori Perkins, Vice President of Collections at Zoo Atlanta, serves as the national Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP).