A New Baby is Born

Brittandbaby

A new baby is always an exciting event and it is no different at Sepilok, especially when it is one of their own rehabilitated orangutans who introduces their new born to the world.

Britt was an orphan who was rescued from a plantation in the Kinabatangan region of Sabah on 27th November 1999 and was thought to be approximately 18 months old. When Britt arrived at Sepilok she was given a thorough medical check and she was found to be in good health – albeit very hungry.

It was obvious that she had already learned a good deal about forest life from her mother but sadly we will never know what separated them from one another.

Britt did well during her period of rehabilitation and became a very confident climber and nest builder. In 2005, she was eventually released into the Kabili Reserve which surrounds Sepilok Centre. She is easy to identify as she has an obvious, permanent swelling around her right eye. There are numerous stories surrounding how she obtained this injury, ranging from a simple accident with a stick to an encounter with a spitting cobra.

The rangers at the Centre had been keeping a close eye on Britt as her pregnancy developed and her appetite grew, along with her huge tummy.

Britt and BrittinaSo you can imagine the excitement on 19th November 2008 when Britt, who was by now the second dominant female in the reserve, came to the feeding platform with her day old baby.

The ranger on the platform was able to observe the baby more closely and give everyone the good news that it was a girl and that she appeared to be a good size. She was quickly named – Brittina.

This is Britt’s first baby and all the signs are there that she is becoming a proficient mother – already learning how to care for and protect the baby and she has been observed feeding her.

Always a confident climber, Britt is not hampered in any way by the baby clinging to her as she swings along the ropes to the feeding platform or climbs a tree. It is an amazing sight to see her hang upside down with the baby limpet-like attached to her (a mother does not need to hold her baby as from birth it naturally clings to her).

MiskamIt is thought that Brittina’s father is Miskam, a 16 year old very aggressive and dominant rehabilitated male, who was Britt’s ardent suitor for some time and has been seen regularly with her and the baby on the feeding platform. Britt has even allowed him to touch Brittina – a privilege she does not grant to any of the others.

During the next couple of years both Britt and her baby will experience difficult times – the first 6 months being the most difficult for the baby to survive. Until the baby’s strength and immunity builds she can easily succumb to the debilitating monsoons and the risk of contracting malaria is great. All the rangers will be keeping a close eye on this very special pair and any slight worries will be reported to our resident veterinarian.

If all goes well Britt will have the baby with her for the next 5 – 7 years, during which time the baby will learn all it needs to know about survival in the jungle.

Each time Britt brings her baby to the feeding platform, visitors are filled with emotion at witnessing such beautiful and tender moments. We wish her well with her new big responsibility - Brittina!