To maximize the odds of survival for the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan species, a special program was set up at the Pairi Daiza animal park in Belgium to help stimulate the birth of new Sumatran orangutans. The program works by studying the DNA of orangutans that already live in the park and matching them with the most suitable partner, with the goal being that a baby orangutan is birthed with the best possible genetic qualities.
Recently, the animal park celebrated the birth of a male orangutan, which has been named Mathaï. The orangutan was conceived and born naturally, and joins his father Ujian, mother Sari, and brother Berani. According to Pairi Daiza, Berani is the only other orangutan born at the park and is “showing great and positive interest in the new baby.”
Pairi Daiza spokesman Mathieu Goedefroy says Mathaï will live with his family until around the age of 10, which is the age of adulthood for orangutans. From there, experts from the European Endangered Species Program will study Mathaï’s DNA and look for the best possible match for him amongst the available female orangutans from around the world. In general, the brothers Berani and Mathaï can expect to live up to 45 years.
According to the wildlife charity Born Free, there are only an estimated 14,000 Sumatran orangutans living on Earth. Along with the orangutan program, Pairi Daiza is attempting to help the survival of this species by funding a crucial reforestation program in Indonesia, which is helping restore the lost habitat of the orangutans by planting trees. Last year, the reforestation program planted more than 11,000 trees.