Cerah at the Denver Zoo

Photo taken by Kayle Lamar

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, at the Denver Zoo, a baby orangutan, Cerah (pronounced chare-uh), was born. Her name means “bright”, in the sense of sunshine. Cerah, along with her mom, Nias, her dad, Berani, and her half-sister, Hesty, is a Sumatran Orangutan. In the wild, they live on the Sumatran Island in Indonesia, Asia. There are only about 14,600 of Sumatran Orangutans globally. They are critically endangered due to the shrinking amount of them.

Although Cerah lives with her mom, dad, and big sister, she doesn’t interact with her dad yet. In the wild, the males live separate from the females and children. For now, her dad Berani has to wait until Cerah is old enough to come over to him until he can be with her. Cerah’s sister, Hesty, plays with Berani because she is older.

Two keepers at the zoo, Michelle Valois and Cindy Cossaboon, talked with me about the orangutans. They told me the main reason of the orangutans’ endangerment was because of farming and housing. Most of the time people farm palm oil, which comes from palm trees, because it is really easy to grow. The palm oil industry is causing deforestation and making many species of animals become extinct or critically endangered, including the Sumatran Orangutan. The farmers take up forest space in order to get more area for palm oil. People also want to build more houses in the forest area.

I would highly recommend coming to the zoo to see Cerah. She is a cute, sweet little baby. She holds on to Nias, her mother, as she swings on ropes. Cerah will be dependant on her mom until she is about two years old. The keepers, Valois and Cossaboon, told me that Berani keeps his distance from Cerah, but he is such a kind and gentle father. It is totally worth seeing these amazing animals.