Baby Orangutan Branches Out from Mom

The 5-month-old Aisha is starting to explore her habitat

A 5-month-old orangutan born at the San Diego Zoo is branching out on her own, learning all about her unique set of climbing skills.

Aisha, the little Sumatran orangutan, has moved away from clinging to her mother Indah’s back and moved on to scaling ropes by herself – with just a little push from her mom, the zoo says.

And with swings, ropes and hammocks in the orangutan habitat’s, she has plenty of options.

"Mom is always staying close by but she's definitely letting Aisha go out on her own more," said Amanda Jurasek, a keeper at the Zoo. "She's pushing her to start climbing and teaching her those vital skills she'll need as she gets older.”

One place Indah isn’t so willing to share her skills: the dinner table. Aisha is still nursing, but she’s becoming more and more curing about tasting solid foods like lettuce, peanuts, sunflower seeds and grapes.

However, zookeepers say Indah isn’t willing to give up part of her meal to her baby.

While the little female is gaining independence, her mother still has some solid bonding years ahead. Orangutans usually stay with their mothers until they’re eight years old, the zoo says. That means they have the longest childhood compared to the rest of the great apes.

The Sumatran orangutan originally hails from the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, but this species has become critically endangered. Less than an estimated 7,000 remain in the wild.

According to the zoo, their number has declined drastically because of over-harvesting timber, human encroachment and habitat conversion to make way for palm oil plantations.

“Humans can help to protect endangered orangutans by carefully checking ingredient labels and only purchasing products that contain sustainably produced palm oil,” the zoo said in a release.

Five orangutans now call the San Diego Zoo home, including Aisha's father Satu, who takes no role in caring for the little one.

As for Aisha and Indah, visitors can catch the duo in person from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day at the zoo’s Orangutan Trail.

You can also watch them 24/7 on the Ape Cam.

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