Orangutan Born in Ramat Gan After Decade-long Baby Drought

Baby ape born to a relatively old mother, Rochale, at 41, for the first such birth since 2000.

An orangutan was born at the Ramat Gan Safari over the weekend, a decade since the last such primate was born there. The baby ape was born to a relatively old mother, Rochale, at 41.

Rochale the orangutan with her baby.
Tibor Jager

Not only is this the first such birth since 2000, the Sumatran Orangutan presently has a limited world population of 7,300. Most of them live in the wild and several dozen in zoos. Along with the Borneo Orangutans, they are considered a species that is threatened by extinction.

Officials at the Ramat Gan Safari (also known as the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan ) were quick to note that the birth was of international importance.

In order to increase the number of orangutans, two young females were brought to the center from Germany - Sisi and Tosy. But it was Rochale, an older orangutan already at the safari, who actually managed to give birth to a healthy baby.

Rochale was also the one who gave birth a decade ago, at age 31. Her caretakers had been hoping more offspring would follow, but on two occasions she gave birth prematurely to lifeless babies. Zoo keepers didn't believe she would be able to give birth to any more babies.

"Rochale's latest birth is a joyous event and gives us great hope," said Ofer Matalon, head of the safari's primate department. "We are keeping our fingers crossed that she will be able to raise the baby and bring it to maturity. We are also still hoping that Tosy will become pregnant."