Sep 1, 2023 - News

Zoo expecting first baby orangutan in over 60 years

Khali the orangutan hangs from a metal wire door while a doctor performs an ultrasound of her uterus

Khali, a 17-year-old pregnant orangutan, receives an ultrasound from Eric Hostnik, a radiologist with Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Photos: Amanda Carberry/Courtesy of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is preparing for a very special primate birth.

Driving the news: Khali, a 17-year-old Bornean orangutan, is pregnant. The father is 30-year-old Sulango.

Why it matters: The tree-dwelling species, native to Southeast Asia, is critically endangered.

  • The baby, due in late fall, will be the first born at the zoo in over 60 years.

The latest: Alissa was among the journalists invited to witness Khali's monthly ultrasound this week.

How it works: Khali is trained to hang onto a wire door in a behind-the-scenes habitat area, making her belly accessible to radiologist Eric Hostnik of OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Zookeeper Chelsea Massaroni keeps Khali distracted during the procedure by feeding her pieces of dried fruit. Watch some video clips.
  • Hostnik has been monitoring the baby as it develops and says it looks healthy.
  • Its sex won't be confirmed until after birth.

What's next: After the baby arrives, it's possible the public's view of the orangutans will be limited until the new mom gets comfortable.

  • For now, you can view the apes in the Australia and the Islands region.
The doctor observes a laptop computer screen with the ultrasound images on it
Hostnik observes the ultrasound images while Massaroni keeps Khali distracted with pieces of dried fruit.
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