It’s a girl! Orangutan baby ‘Jolene’ makes zoo debut

It’s a girl! Orangutan baby ‘Jolene’ makes zoo debut



After a few weeks of consideration, care staff have selected a name for orangutan Kitra’s new baby. Inspired by the line in the Dolly Parton classic that goes, “Your beauty is beyond compare / with flaming locks of auburn hair,” she will be called Jolene.

“Because we’re giving Kitra and her baby plenty of room to bond, we were unable to tell if she’d had a boy or a girl until recently,” said Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo’s primate area. “Once we confirmed she was a girl, our keeper team knew right away what they wanted to call her. They’ve been playing the song on repeat ever since!”

With summer on the way, the auburn-haired youngster and her mom are spending more time in their outdoor habitat. Gilmore says visitors to the zoo should be able to catch a glimpse of the pair on most days, though the choice is always up to Kitra.

“Kitra can decide whether she and Jolene are up for a trip outside or if they’d rather have privacy,” Gilmore said. “As Jolene gets older and more curious, we expect them to be outside more and more.”

Jolene was born on April 13 to first-time mom Kitra. Care staff worked with Kitra throughout her pregnancy to help her prepare for motherhood, but according to Gilmore, the 20-year-old Bornean orangutan hasn’t needed much help.

“We’ve never been so happy to put in hours of work on something that didn’t happen,” said Gilmore. “We were prepared to step in if Kitra needed us, but she’s done everything perfectly on her own so far.”

Orangutans are critically endangered, largely because of habitat loss driven by logging and the conversion of forests into oil palm plantations. Around 90% of the world’s palm oil is produced on the only two islands where orangutans live.


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