NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Patients and staff at Children’s Hospital New Orleans have chosen “Madu” as the name for an endangered Sumatran orangutan born in February at the city’s zoo. The word is Malay for “honey.”
Madu got 80 votes, seven more than Matahari, a Malay word meaning “sun,” Audubon Zoo spokeswoman Annie Kinler Matherne said Thursday in an email. She said Bani, an Indonesian word meaning “children,” was third with 48 votes.
Matherne said a few patients well enough to go to the zoo were there when a banner bearing the baby’s name was unveiled in front of the orangutan habitat before the zoo opened Wednesday.
“Our patients had so much fun being invited to help name Audubon’s baby orangutan. … This is a great example of finding creative ways to work together to deliver a little something extra for our patients and families,” hospital President and CEO John R. Nickens IV said in the zoo’s news release Thursday.
The baby is the first for mother Reese and the second for sire Jambi since he came from Germany’s Hanover Zoo in 2018. Jambi also fathered Bulan, the female born to orangutan matriarch Feliz in 2019.
The zoo said a genetically diverse captive population is important because Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says fewer than 14,000 live in the wild, and their numbers are declining dramatically as development, mining and palm oil plantations fragment their forest habitat.
There are currently 95 Sumatran orangutans in human care across 27 Association of Zoos and Aquariums organizations, the zoo said.