On Wednesday, August 22, the Greenville Zoo staff physically introduced Lana and her baby for the first time since the baby was born on August 7. Since the introduction, the staff has been monitoring the pair throughout the day and overnight, noting when and how long the baby nurses, Lana’s behavior, the baby’s behavior and anything else that occurs to ensure that Lana is taking appropriate care of the infant.
Following the baby’s birth, it was important to make sure that Lana’s sutures stayed intact, that she did not develop any infections and that she recovered mentally from the stress of the immobilization, anesthesia and surgery before she was tasked with caring for the baby. During this two-week period, the baby was cared for and monitored by multiple zoo staff members as well as local physicians who participated in her birth or had been part of the Birth Management Team. At the beginning of this week, the team met and decided that Lana was healthy and ready to begin caring for her infant.
On Wednesday, keepers came in early to take care of the animals in the Asia area so that time could be focused on the introduction. Around 8:30 a.m., Jennifer Stahl, the lead Asia keeper, fed the baby one last large bottle of formula before wrapping her in a blanket and taking her to the orangutan building. At 8:40 a.m., Jennifer laid the baby, who was still in the blanket, on top of the wood wool-covered floor in the den next to Lana’s den and walked away. When Lana was given access to the den, she cautiously approached the baby and, curious, removed the baby from the blanket. Lana was gentle with the baby and while she would become nervous when the baby vocalized, sometimes moving away, she never went far and always returned. The baby first nursed from Lana at 2 p.m., which was a significant milestone for mother and baby and affirming for the zoo staff.
The staff will continue to monitor them during the day and via cameras during the night, but at this point, the team has a high level of confidence in Lana and is comfortable with the situation.
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Jeff BullockZoo Administrator