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TOLEDO — Toledo Zoo is sharing photos of a male baby orangutan, Fajar (fah-zhar), whose name means dawn or start of a new day.

Fajar was born Oct. 12, 2019, to first-time parents Leela and Bajik, both Bornean orangutans. At this time, Mom and baby remain under the watchful eyes of animal care staff in an off-exhibit area with Dad nearby. A public debut date has not been set.

Shortly after giving birth, Leela was observed cradling and cleaning her baby. However, keepers were concerned about the placenta remaining attached. The decision was made to separate Mom and baby for a full veterinary examination. Tests revealed Fajar had an infection in the umbilicus.

While being treated for the infection, the new baby was hand-reared by great apes staff 24 hours a day. For approximately six months, staff had to constantly hold the baby, who in the wild would cling to its mother, while also trying to maintain a close bond between Mom and baby. Keepers trained daily with Fajar and Leela in hopes of reuniting them as soon as possible. Leela’s maternal training behaviors were positively reinforced, and using a bottle on a stick for feeding, the baby was introduced.

At the same time, Fajar was trained to climb, crawl and take a bottle on a stick through the mesh. While these behaviors are quite advanced for such a young orangutan, they were necessary to ensure proper care and diet. Throughout the process, much time was spent simply allowing Leela and Fajar to bond. When it was determined that both orangutans were ready, one-on-one time was introduced. On April 6, Leela and Fajar were officially reintroduced and, when the animal care team saw consistent healthy bonding and proper care, the next step was to leave them together overnight. Staff continued to observe, and when it was determined they were doing well together, human parental assistance was ceased.

According to keepers, Leela and Fajar are continuing to work out a daily routine but continue to bond and grow. Fajar weighs just over 12 pounds, has 10 teeth and eats rice cereal mixed with fruits and vegetables, while also starting to sample food from Leela.

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