Surprise! Endangered Siamang born in Virginia. Family 'heard singing together' at the zoo

Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 15:33:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Zoo announced the birth of an endangered siamang baby who came into the world on March 15, to mother Malana and father Bali.

The zoo said it was the fourth ever siamang to be born at the facility, and is the result of a breeding recommendation from the Siamang Species Survival Plan.

The Siamang Species Survival Plan coordinates population management for the species with the cooperation of accredited and certified facilities, as well as sustainability partners, of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

On the morning of the Mar. 15, keepers arrived to the surprise of the baby holding tight to mom.


The zoo said keepers suspected Malana could be pregnant due to recent behavioral and physical changes, but they were not able to confirm without performing invasive testing.

"The entire Asia team is very excited about the expansion of our siamang family," Jill Strother, Assistant Curator of the Virginia Zoo's Asia section, said. "Malana and the baby are doing well as the family adjusts to the new addition."

Malana is an experienced mother with five births under her belt, said the zoo, but she is considered a senior animal at 35 years old.

Siamangs form extremely tight family bonds, and fathers play a significant role in raising the young, unlike many species in the animal kingdom, according to the zoo.

Keepers report that Bali and Lovejoy, the new baby's older brother, have been calm and curious around mom and baby, and have taken turns grooming Malana.

The zoo says the whole family has "been heard singing together," which is a behavior that helps solidify family and social bonds.

Following the baby's arrival, the family of siamangs have been spending time bonding privately in their behind-the-scenes dens while they are monitored by veterinary and keeper staff.


Zoo officials expect the group will be visible in their dayroom starting Tuesday, with the option for Malana to shift between the dayroom and the dens as she pleases.

"The birth of any endangered species is always a cause for celebration," said Emily Snicker, Director of Communications at the Virginia Zoo. "We are thrilled to see the group bonding and supporting each other, and we feel privileged to have a front-row seat as this baby grows into an energetic young siamang."

The baby's gender has not yet been confirmed, but the zoo said they will keep everyone updated on their social media pages.

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.