50 people care for baby orangutan

April 7, 2011 at 3:30 AM

HOUSTON, April 7 (UPI) -- The Houston Zoo said more than 50 people were taking shifts as surrogate mothers for a baby orangutan rejected by her mother March 2.

The zoo said staff members and volunteers were taking turns giving round-the-clock attention to the 5-pound infant at the facility's Wortham World of Primates after the baby's mother, Kelly, rejected her. The mother had nursed the newborn several times during her first 12 hours of life, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.

"She's a lot of work, this baby, but she's worth it," said Lynn Killam, supervisor of carnivores for the Houston Zoo.

Hollie Colahan, curator of primates and carnivores, said the 16 zookeepers working in the primate section all have previous experience with hand-rearing newborn animals. She said the orangutan is being fed baby formula manufactured for humans.

The zoo said officials hope to eventually reintroduce the baby to her mother or to the facility's other female orangutan, Cheyenne.

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