On June 30, 2018, “Bella”, then a 5-year-old Bornean orangutan, made her public debut at Zoo Miami with her mother, “Kumang”, after arriving from Seneca Park Zoo in New York.
The two were crowd favorites until Kumang’s sad death in September last year following complications from veterinary surgery.
Since Kumang’s death, Bella has adjusted to independence, but the plan for her has always been to pair her with a mate with the eventual goal of having her contribute to the carefully managed population of orangutans on the way. of disappearance under human care. This population is managed by a Species Survival Plan (SSP) in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
There are nearly 500 SSPs run by the AZA that focus on rare, threatened, and endangered species with the goal of maintaining a genetically diverse population in human care for long-term sustainability. In very simple terms, it serves as a “computer dating service” to match animals that are genetically best suited to produce the healthiest offspring. Each SSP is led by an Expert Advisor who directs these matches.
It turns out that the Orangutan SSP recommended that the now 9-year-old Bella be paired with a 7-year-old male named “Jiwa”, who is from the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona. Recently, after careful planning, Jiwa was placed on a special FedEx flight accompanied by a member of staff from Zoo Phoenix and Zoo Miami who arrived at the MIA. The flight went well and upon arrival Jiwa was transferred to Zoo Miami where he was brought to orangutan country and was to remain in quarantine for approximately 30 days to ensure he is free. pests or diseases that he might have contracted in transit. of Phoenix.
Once he leaves his 40s, the very careful process of introducing him to Bella will begin to take place. Although their genetics indicate that they are well suited for each other biologically, there is no guarantee that they will like each other and become a successful couple.
A lot will depend on the introduction process where the animal science team will take all possible steps to slowly and patiently introduce them to each other. The hope is that once Bella sees Jiwa, she will “swipe ight!”
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