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Metro Richmond Zoo debuts baby orangutan named 'Taavi'

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Posted at 7:52 AM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 12:48:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Metro Richmond Zoo announced the birth of a baby orangutan named Taavi.

Taavi was born on March 2 to first-time parents, Farley and Zoe. Weighing in at three pounds, his name means "adored" in Hebrew and Finnish, which zoo officials said was a perfect fit since he's loved by all the zoo staff.

He is being hand-raised by the zoo's animal care specialists after his mother, Zoe, neglected him.

After he was born, Zoe's maternal instincts did not kick in, zoo officials said. She wouldn't nurse the baby and held him in her palm away from her, failing to form a bond.

Zoo officials said staff had to intervene to allow Taavi to get the nutrition he needed. They made several attempts to reintroduce Taavi to his mother -- all unsuccessful.

As a newborn, Taavi was fed a bottle every two hours. Now that he is older, the interval between his feedings and the amount of formula has increased.

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Currently five months old, Taavi now weighs 10 pounds.

He is starting to eat some solid foods in addition to his regular bottles, and his caretakers work with him to increase his strength.

They place him on a life-size orangutan stuffed animal where he practices holding on and moving around like he would with his mother. The goal is to introduce Taavi to another orangutan to be his surrogate mother.

Tasha, an experienced mother at the zoo, is the main candidate to be his surrogate, zoo officials said.

Currently, Taavi receives care behind-the-scenes at the zoo and is not on exhibit.

The orangutan is an endangered species native to Borneo and Sumatra. They are the second largest of all primates, with adult males weighing up to 350 pounds.

They are classified as apes, not monkeys.

According to the Zoo, these beautiful creatures are among some of the most intelligent animals in the animal kingdom.

But they have been victims of poaching and deforestation, resulting in an endangered status.

Deforestation for the establishment of palm oil plantations is the primary cause of habitat loss for orangutans, according to the zoo.