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Monkey World News

Baby orangutan Rieke presented at Berlin zoo

7 February 2015

The orangutan cub "Rieke" is pictured in Berlin on February 6, 2015. 

Just one month old and already a media star, baby orangutan Rieke made her first appearance at Berlin Zoo on Friday, February 6.

Raised by humans after being abandoned by her mother, eleven-year-old Djasinga, she looked happy enough sucking on a bottle and being weighed by a zookeeper.

"The dramatic story was that the mother didn't take on the baby. She didn't show any interest in the newborn. This happens sometimes. We decided then, because she wasn't accepted by her mother, to take the baby away," zoo director Andreas Knieriem said.

"We tried again by putting the mother under anaesthetics in the hope that when she felt the baby next to her after it drank - the feeding is very important, it releases oxytocin [hormones] which intensifies maternal feelings, but unfortunately it wasn't a success. We then decided to raise the baby by hand, also for safety reasons for the baby."

She seems to be thriving on the tender loving care at the zoo, having put on over 400 grams since birth and now weighing over two kilos.

"They are very, very sensitive when they are born, and don't put on kilos of weight, rather they need to stay with the mother for a long time. And today we see her clutching on to everything - it's really important that they stick to the mother, so to say - but they still can't see very much, a bit like human babies," Knieriem said.

Members of the public keen to see Rieke in the flesh can do so from Saturday, but Rieke's adoring public are not the only ones who have fallen in love with her.

"When you see a little orangutan baby like that you warm to her, I took her straight to my heart, everybody does. I make no secret of it that because these little orangutan babies seem like little people, you want to take them under your wing," Knieriem added.

Rieke is set to appear every day around 1 p.m. in the monkey house for the next three months starting Saturday. After that she will move to her new home at Monkey World in Dorset in the south of England.

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