Somewhere round here there should be a pregnant female.
    Can you see her?

    Orangutans are pregnant for 8 months. And then they usually only have one baby. Twins are rare. The female carries on with daily life whilst she's pregnant. The only thing noticeable is that she likes to spend less time than usual with other females and she totally avoids the males.

    The development of a baby orangutan is very like that of a human baby. They once took a picture of an orangutan foetus in the womb and even the experts couldn't tell if it was an orangutan or a human baby.

    Look, there she is!

    As the first contractions begin, the female moves to the lower branches to give birth. She will sleep there as well, instead of building a nest in the high treetops.

    Birth is quick, and it needs to be, as 5 m above the ground is a very dangerous place for orangutans. A female in labour is easy prey for predators. She probably goes lower to give birth so that, if anything were to go wrong, the baby wouldn't have so far to fall.

    The newborn baby immediately latches on to its mother and doesn't let go again. Only after a few minutes does it begin to drink. The first milk is very important for the baby, because it is full of antibodies and healthy proteins.

    Breast-milk is the baby's major food source for a long time. The mother will continue breast-feeding until the young can eat just fruit, and that isn't until the young is five years old!

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© Meike Kunkel
© Meike Kunkel