Successful Caesarean Delivery and Early Reintroduction of a Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii)
A 20-year-old nulliparous Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) delivered a full-term stillborn infant in 2005. A second pregnancy was confirmed by urine beta-hCG on 27 June 2007. A birth plan was established to address a potentially complicated pregnancy. Serosanguinous fluid was observed on bedding by keepers on the morning of 13 December 2007. When parturition failed to progress within 4 hours, the female was induced by hand and dart injection with ketamine and transported to the UMN CVM for C-section. A male neonate was delivered by a ventral midline approach. The neonate experienced cardiac and respiratory depression within 10 minutes of delivery, necessitating intubation and aggressive resuscitation. The mother was returned to the zoo for recovery while the neonate was moved to the critical care unit of the UMN CVM. Successful recovery of the neonate involved intensive monitoring with antibiotic, oxygen, intravenous fluid, and nutritional support.
The neonate was able to maintain stable blood gases and glucose levels without intravenous support at 4 days after delivery and was moved to the zoo where a reintroduction program was initiated. The mother was allowed progressive amounts of protected contact with the neonate. At 10 days after delivery, the infant was considered strong enough and the mother was showing the necessary maternal interest for introduction. Maternal lactation was stimulated by oral metoclopramide in preparation for reintroduction. Successful reintroduction occurred on the 12th day after delivery. This is the ninth reported orangutan Caesarean delivery and the earliest recorded reintroduction by 8.5 months (Lori Perkins, pers. comm., 1/9/08, International Orangutan Studbook).
The authors would like to acknowledge Mark Bergeron and Grace Doolittle for advice on initial infant care and lactation management based on experience in human medicine, and Lori Perkins and Carol Sodaro for advice on historical care of dystocia and reintroduction in orangutans. The authors also extend thanks to Jessica Nyholm, Jessica Swartout, Daniel deAlmeida, Justine Lee, Danielle Babski, Heather Loehrer, Vickie Skala, Kelly Tart, Theresa Schrachta, Rachel Rylander, Megan Kunau, and all of the keepers of Como Zoo who played critical roles in the successful delivery, care and reintroduction of Jaya, the infant orangutan.