On Jan. 4, 2022, the San Diego Zoo welcomed a miniature miracle covered in rust-colored hair. Kaja, a baby Sumatran orangutan, marks the first of his species to be born in the zoo in seven years. As Sumatran orangutans are designated as Critically Endangered, even one infant makes an impact—according to the World Wildlife Foundation, there are fewer than 7,500 left in the entire world.
Kaja is the third-born for 35-year-old resident orangutan, Indah (her second was born at the zoo in 2015); the father, Satu, died one month before the birth, making the advent of the orangutan baby all the more special. While Indah initially suffered mild complications following delivery, she is currently recovering and zoo visitors can view the pair in a special enclosure intermittently until all health issues have been fully resolved.
Hailing from Sumatra and Java, the Sumatran orangutan shares an astonishing 96.4 percent of their DNA with humans. One of our closest relatives, they are highly intelligent and remarkably social. The destruction of their home for lumber and palm oil plantations (females live their entire lives in the trees) as well as the illegal pet trade has whittled the population down to fewer than 10 distinct groups. The conservation breeding program in the San Diego Zoo—which extends to many of the 650 species and subspecies who call the zoo home—is focused on the preservation and revitalization of these orangutans.
Visit the iconic San Diego institution to learn more about the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on conservation through awareness, animal care, and science. Get an up-close look at some of the animals under their care with a behind-the-scenes experience. Crazy About Cats lets visitors see tigers, leopards, and ocelots from a private cart before the zoo’s doors open to the public, while Inside Look: Polar Bear and Friends allows guests exclusive early-morning access to the polar bear’s arctic habitat. While you’re in the area, San Diego Zoo Safari Parkin nearby Escondido and Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla make for other family-fun, educational experiences.