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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo expecting baby orangutan - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo expecting baby orangutan

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is getting ready to welcome a new baby in the orangutans family.

Sumagu, one of the zoo's Sumatran orangutans, is pregnant. This has staff planning for a new baby as soon as mid-May, although it likely will be early June. Sumagu was born and raised at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and has previously delivered two healthy offspring.

(Sumagu the orangutan. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Facebook)

Right now zoo staff is working on her ultrasound training, a vital part of making sure that the baby is developing healthy. Training is a step-by-step process that starts with Sumagu meeting Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Marjorie Bercier, who is new on staff.

“First, she is learning to hold her belly to the mesh of her enclosure,” explains senior animal keeper Eleanor Knox in an article on the Waterhole, the zoo's publication. “Then she must get used to the probe touching her, and hold still for her belly hair to be trimmed. Then water will be sprayed on her, and then gel will be put on her belly. The gel is the hardest part – none of our orangutans like it, so they get extra food for participating and we give them a towel to wipe it off when we are done.”

Knox stresses that positive reinforcement is being used to help get her comfortable with the process.

“When Sumagu chooses to participate, she is given yummy food for doing the right behavior,” said Knox. “If she doesn’t want to train on a particular day, there are no bad consequences for her.”

The doctors stress that they have a very hands off role in the pregnancy.

“We have an accessory role in Sumagu’s pregnancy,” says Dr. Bercier. “Our goal is to make sure that both mom and baby are healthy during pregnancy and after birth. The veterinary team would not intervene unless necessary.”

Sumagu gave birth in January 2003 and again in February 2009, both times having healthy babies.

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