Dee Dee is a Bornean Orangutan, part of a critically endangered species. Experts say there are less than 100 Bornean Orangutans in specialized zoos around the world, and even fewer surviving out in the wild.
That number has increased by one, however. On Jan. 6, Dee Dee gave birth to the species' newest member, a female who has yet to be named. She came into the world weighing only three pounds, and staffers at the Tampa zoo say Dee Dee is extremely protective. She carries the baby everywhere she goes, showering her with kisses and affection.
This moment is everything 💕
TLPZ welcomes 2018 with the birth of a rare Bornean orangutan baby born on Jan. 6, 2018!January 11, 2018
"This is a significant birth for the entire critically endangered Bornean Orangutan population," said Chris Massaro, the General Curator at Lowry Park Zoo. "It's important to have the community along for this journey. We hope Dee Dee's story inspires the public to become advocates for this incredible species and learn about the perils they face in the wild."
Dee Dee's new baby was born prematurely, but zoologists celebrated nonetheless. She's now healthy and thriving.
The Bornean Orangutan is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Their population has declined more than 50% in the past 60 years, and experts believe it's due mostly to habitat loss, poaching and the illegal pet trade. However, conservationists have been working hard to protect the rare ape, and Dee Dee's birth is a huge step in the right direction.
This is Dee Dee's fourth time giving birth, so she's become extremely accustomed to motherhood. The videos of her carrying her baby around her enclosure have sparked a wave of interest in the plight of the Bornean Orangutan. Zoologists are pleased when stories and videos like this go viral, as they need public interest in order to keep conservation efforts going.
Visitors to the Lowry Park Zoo were enthralled in the magic of this dwindling species' fight for survival. The story was picked up by major news networks around the world, and patrons have been sharing their pictures and videos of Dee Dee on social media since the baby arrived.