Auckland Museum has recently received a new addition to the collection – an infant female orangutan.
‘Darli’ was born in June 2000 at Auckland Zoo but was accidently rolled on after her mother experienced complications from giving birth. Auckland Zoo then generously donated the infant to the Museum.
Placed into one of our freezers, Darli did eventually make an appearance (frozen) for the exhibition Secrets Revealed in 2008. Recently though, the Land Vertebrates department decided it was time that the infant orangutan came out from frozen storage and be permanently mounted for future display.
A taxidermist with previous experience preparing great apes for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was assigned the task of mounting Darli. A cast of her body was created to form the mount so it looked as real as possible.
In the wild, an infant orangutan is completely dependent on its mother until it reaches about two years of age. During this time the baby will be carried by her, rely on her for food and sleep in the same night nests. Young orangutan aren’t weaned until four years of age. Unfortunately, both the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan species are currently listed as endangered with an estimated population decline of over 50% during the last 60 years. This is mostly because of habitat loss to agriculture and fires.
An excellent resource for more information on the behaviour, ecology and conservation of orangutans is the Primate Info Net website.
Auckland Zoo still has Darli’s father ‘Charlie’ and half-brother ‘Madju’ amongst their group of six resident orangutans. Darli will be put on display outside the new refreshed Weird & Wonderful gallery from next week. Be sure to come and check her out as it isn’t every day you get close to an infant orangutan.