We’re thrilled to announce that Chelsea is pregnant! Chelsea is a critically endangered 31-year-old female Bornean orangutan. This is Chelsea’s second pregnancy. Her first offspring, a male named Bob, lives at the Oregon Zoo. Chelsea’s baby watch will begin on May 22nd and there will be a several week window when she is expected to give birth.
Orangutans are one of the five types of great ape, along with chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and humans. Orangutans are the least-studied and most unique, of the great apes.
Just like the arrival of any new baby, we have a list of items that can help us care for Chelsea and her baby. We always welcome donations and have set up a wish list of items that will help us provide a safe and happy space for all of our orangutans. Wish list items include everything from Pedialyte to teething toys.
How we’re helping.
Almost half of the wild Bornean Orangutan population lives in forest areas earmarked for conversion to agriculture uses. With the current scale of habitat exploitation, only a small percentage of current habitat will remain undisturbed by 2030. Henry Vilas Zoo Executive Director Ronda Schwetz serves as the Co-Chair of the Associations of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Orangutan Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program and is a steering committee member of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan. To date, Orangutan SAFE has 16 partners in other AZA zoos and together have donated over $135,000 to orangutan conservation efforts in both Borneo and Sumatra since 2020.
It’s a tricky word!
It’s “Orangutan” not “orang”!
The use of the word “orang” in place of “orangutan” has become so widespread that it even shows up in some dictionaries as an alternative but not only is it linguistically wrong, it’s culturally insensitive and runs in defiance of Islamic beliefs common throughout most of the area where orangutans live.
Orangutan does translate as “person of the forest,” with orang meaning “person” and (h)utan meaning “forest.” But the word orang by itself is also a classifier in the native language. Chopping the word orangutan in half does not result in two halves that necessarily mean what they meant when they were together in one-word harmony.
It’s not “orangutang” either!
There is no “g” at the end of the word. Orangutan is one of the most mispronounced words we hear at the Zoo. People often say “Oh-rang-oo-tang.” It is so common that even some of our own staff occasionally slip up and add a “g” to the end of the word!