Meet Taavi: Metro Richmond Zoo debuts baby orangutan

RICHMOND, Va. — The folks at Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia kept their secret for nearly six whole months, but the cuteness was simply too much to bear alone.

In honor of International Orangutan Day, the facility announced Thursday the birth of Taavi, a male orangutan whose name means “adored” in Hebrew and Finnish, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

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According to WTVR, Taavi was born March 2 to first-time parents, Farley and Zoe, but Zoe’s maternal instincts never kicked in. She refused to nurse the 3-pound cutie and would hold him in her palm away from her body, preventing a bond from forming.

In turn, Taavi is being hand-raised by the zoo’s animal care specialists and now weighs 10 pounds, the TV station reported.

“He’s incredible, just adorable,” Metro Richmond Zoo Director Jim Andelin told the Times-Dispatch.

Andelin said that the goal is to introduce Taavi to a surrogate mother, and experienced mother Tasha is the primary candidate.

“We’re anxious to get him with a surrogate mom so that he can be with his own kind. That’s where he belongs,” he added.

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Zoo staff are waiting until Taavi no longer requires feedings throughout the night to make the introduction and are hopeful that could happen within the next month, the newspaper reported.

“We’re going to train the mom to bring him up to the fence and we’ll feed him through the fence. Then he can be with her all day,” Andelin told the Times-Dispatch.

Orangutans, which are the second-largest of all primates and classified as apes, are an endangered species, due to poaching and deforestation. The species is native to Borneo and Sumatra, and adult male orangutans can weigh as much as 350 pounds, WTVR reported.

Taavi, who is not currently housed in an exhibit, is the first baby orangutan born at the Metro Richmond Zoo in six years and only the third born at the facility in its history, the Times-Dispatch reported.