The Wilhelma zoo in Stuttgart has succeeded in bringing together two orangutan couples after the videos introduced females to their male counterparts. The zookeepers hope new offspring are in the offing.
Zoo officials in Stuttgart said they were happy to have managed to find partners for two of their orangutans, females Sinta (pictured above, right) and Conny (pictured above, left), local media reported on Saturday. Sinta's partner was a male orangutan called Gempa, who lived in a zoo in Belgium.
Both met online earlier this year after their zookeepers showed them short video clips of the animals to their potential mates, zoologist Marianne Holtkötter told journalists.
Their first meeting in summer this year was not much of a success, "but then, Gempa did not want to be away from Sinta at all," Hofkötter said, explaining that Gempa had fertilized the female several times. "All we are waiting for now is a positive pregnancy," she added.
The second female, Conny, was also successfully matched with male Tuan at the Hamburg zoo, but the two have not yet come close, Hofkötter explained, adding that Conny was also waiting for her menstrual cycle.
The zoo is using unconventional methods to improve the birth rate of orangutans, an endangered species of which only 63,500 exist today. The word "orangutan" means "person of the forest" in Malay and the animals are found only in Sumatra and Borneo, in Indonesia. The animals give birth only once in eight years.
According to Hofkötter, zookeepers have used videos to help orangutans find their mates because the creatures are "different from other apes…They are sensitive and observe things differently." Orangutans also developed affection or dislike for their keepers and hoped that the birth rate would be higher if females were free to find their partners.