Saturday, August 10, 2013

World's First Video of Sumatran Orangutan Giving Birth

Dana cleaning her daughter moments after giving birth. Photo from BBC News.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have the world's first video of a Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) giving birth. Why have we not have any videos of them giving birth? Well, Sumatran orangutans give birth at night (pitch black) and also high above the forest canopy. So, that's probably why. 

So we have the mother, Dana, who is a 25 year old Sumatran orangutan from Jersey's Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (this Jersey is in the UK, not US). Dana suffered complications in her previous pregnancy in 2009 and resulted in a stillborn. These complications left her with blocked fallopian tubes, making her infertile. However, experts from Jersey General Hospital’s head obstetrician intervened in 2012 to help Dana conceive and a little help from the 27 year-old male, Dagu. On June 9th, Dana give birth to a female infant which was named KeaJaiban (you see, "KeaJaiban" is Indonesian for "miracle"). The birth of KeaJaiban (or Kea for short) was indeed miraculous, owing mostly to the surgery to unblocked Dana's fallopian tubes.

The video below might be not safe for work (NSFW) and I thoroughly recommend that you don't watch this after or before a meal. But then if you are like me, this will not phase you. 

 World's  first video of a Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) giving birth. Video from YouTube.

Age at first birth for female Sumatran orangutans is about 15 years old. Interbirth intervals are about 8 to 9 years old while gestation period is between 7.5 to 8.5 months. Sumatran orangutan gestation period is very close to those of human females. (Singleton et al., 2008)

Orangutan birth is relatively quick (as are most primates). The baby comes out of the birth canal and immediately held on by the mother. A few licks on the baby to make sure that the baby is alright, the mother then clears the baby's airway. The baby then starts to cry and scream (like a human baby). The mother then ingests the placenta (placentophagy) and bites off the umbilical cord. Placentophagy is very common in mammals, even in humans. I think the most amazing (and coolest) part of the video is when Dana brought her baby and presented her to the staff!


Singleton, I., Wich, S.A. & Griffiths, M. 2008. Pongo abelii. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <>. Downloaded on 10 August 2013.

Second orangutan born at Jersey wildlife park on BBC News

Never-before-seen footage of orangutan birth in Refugees Of The Lost Rain Forest on BBC One

Jersey orangutan baby named 'KeaJaiban' on BBC News


Anonymous said...

ha! this made my day :) **HUGE smiles** luv luv orangutans! what a cutie baby...mama so proud.

Unknown said...

Amazing work! Her absolute trust and 'kindship' with the caretakers is obvious. Thank you for keeping them safe! Prayers to those @ Leuser. Sharon K. Hong Kong