Toronto Zoo says endangered orangutan is pregnant, due to give birth in April

Endangered orangutans Sekali and Budi are seen here at the Toronto Zoo. (YouTube/Toronto Zoo)

The Toronto Zoo says one of its critically endangered orangutans is pregnant -- the first such pregnancy at the zoo in 15 years.

The organization says the mother is Sekali, a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan, and the father is 15-year-old Budi. Both were born at the zoo.

It says the pair was introduced in February and the pregnancy was confirmed in August.

Exciting news ���� Sekali and Budi are expecting!

29-year-old Sumatran orangutan Sekali and 15-year-old Budi were paired at the recommendation of the AZA Species Survival Plan, and we are thrilled to further contribute to the future of this critically endangered species.

— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) October 7, 2021

The zoo says orangutan pregnancies can be detected just like human ones, using an over-the-counter pregnancy test, and staff trained Sekali to pee in a cup.

It says orangutan pregnancies are slightly shorter than ones for a human and Sekali is due in April.

The zoo says it will be the first orangutan birth at its facility since 2006.

The organization says the conservation status of Sumatran orangutans was changed to critically endangered in 2017 and fewer than 15,000 can be found in the wild.

It says the zoo houses the only Sumatran orangutans in Canada.

"This pregnancy is an important contribution to a genetically healthy Sumatran orangutan population," Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong said in a statement.

"Sumatran orangutans are under increasing pressure due to habitat loss and the palm oil crisis."

Sekali already has a son named Kembali who also lives at the Toronto Zoo, the company says. Budi has no previous offspring.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021.