Baby Bornean orangutan makes Brookfield Zoo debut

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A baby Bornean orangutan born just before Christmas made her debut Tuesday at the Brookfield Zoo.

PHOTOS: Baby orangutan born at Brookfield Zoo

The two-week-old female orangutan, who has not yet been named, can be seen with her mother Sophia at the Tropic World: Asia habitat, according to a release from the west suburban zoo. She has been bonding behind the scenes with her mother and being monitored by animal care staff since her birth Dec. 20.

"I am so excited. We have a new baby," said Nava Greenblat, Leak Keeper Tropic World Asia. "Oh gosh she is so cute, so tiny, really strong and doing wonderfully with her mother Sophia."

Sophia is 35 years old now and this is her sixth offspring. Her 8-year-old daughter Kekasih is still with her in the exhibit and so is her 3-year-old adopted daughter. It's one big happy family.

"One of the things are really love about working with orangutans is that they're so easy to read because they are so similar to us. You almost feel like you understand what they're thinking," Greenblat said.

I know we don't like to think we look like orangutans but in this case appearances are only fur deep especially when we're having babies. Then we are very close cousins.

"For one thing gestation is very similar to people, about eight and a half months for orangutans. And another things people notice is that close bond between mother and infant," said Craig Demitros, associate curator of primates.

Sophia probably doesn't remember but she - like human mothers - is in for a very long commitment. No days off.

"They have a very long dependency on their mothers. They nurse for a very long time. Up to five years," Greenblat said.

And the baby's father Ben is behind the scenes in his man cave. and just maybe, thinking of his little girl's future.

"The baby's future is as of yet undetermined but she'll be here a very long time," Demitros said.

The best time to see the new baby is in the mornings.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report. null
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