Chester Zoo has announced it is celebrating the surprise birth of a critically-endangered Bornean orangutan this week.
The new baby took keepers by surprise as mum Leia – who was born in 1996 – had been given a pregnancy test just months before, which came back negative.
Orangutans are typically pregnant for 259 days (eight and a half months).
Keepers say the new arrival – which arrived on 18th June and has been “tucked away with Mum ever since” – is “bright and alert” and is suckling well from mum, who is incredibly protective of her new baby.
Bornean orangutans are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered in the wild.
Threatened by illegal hunting, habitat destruction and the conversion of their forest to palm oil plantations, the species has been pushed to the very brink of existence. Recent estimates suggest as few as 55,000 Bornean orangutans may remain on the island of Borneo in Indonesia and the only place they can be found in the wild.
With this huge decline in the population, the group of orangutans at Chester Zoo are part of a vital international breeding programme, which is working to conserve the species.
Chris Yarwood – a primate keeper at the zoo – said: “The pregnancy tests we had carried out on Leia in the months prior to the birth had actually returned negative results [so] it was therefore a wonderful surprise to arrive one morning to see her protectively cradling a beautiful new arrival.
“Leia enjoys spending lots of time alone with her baby and has so far been quite shy about showing it off. She always keeps it really close to her and so we’ve not yet been able to clearly determine what the gender of the infant is. What we are sure of though is that the baby is bright, alert and suckling well from mum and has developed well over the last couple of months.
“This is Leia’s second baby – she’s a great mum and is doing a fab job once again.
“Chester is one of the few zoos in Europe that cares for both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. These are critically endangered animals and, importantly, we’ve seen babies from both sub-species born in recent times [so] it just goes to show that, despite all of the uncertainty in the world right now, life is carrying on as normal for the orangutans, which is really uplifting to see.”
Chester Zoo is working with conservation partners HUTAN in a bid to protect wild orangutans in Borneo.
Conservationists have been carrying out research in the Kinabatangan – home to one of the largest populations of orangutans in the Sabah region of the island – to gain a better understanding of how orangutans are adapting to an increase in oil palm plantations and the new landscapes which they have created.
A team of zoo experts has also helped to create special ‘orangutan bridges’, which are designed to connect pockets of fragmented forest and enable orangutans to safely travel between different areas.
Elsewhere, the zoo is working on environmental education programmes, which teach communities surrounding the forests about how they can help save the species and has also supported local NGO – the Borneo Nature Foundation – in tackling forest fires to help protect the Bornean orangutans’ habitat.
Dr Nick Davis – the zoo’s Deputy Curator of Mammals – said: “Bornean orangutans are the largest arboreal mammals in the world and how fast their numbers are plummeting is frightening.
“They are victims of illegal hunting and habitat loss and are highly threatened by the unsustainable oil palm industry, which is having a devastating effect on the forests where they live. These magnificent animals are being pushed to the very edge of existence and it really could be the case that we soon lose them forever.
“It’s absolutely vital therefore that there’s a sustainable population of Bornean orangutans in the world’s progressive zoos [and] every addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is so, so important.”
He continued: “There’s still a huge need to tackle the excessive deforestation in Borneo and show people everywhere that they can make a difference to the long-term survival of orangutans.
“We really hope that Leia’s new baby helps to further highlight how simple everyday choices, like choosing products which contain only sustainably sourced palm oil, can have a massive impact on the future of these remarkable animals.”
Chester Zoo is campaigning here in the UK against the use of unsustainable palm oil in everyday household and food items and is working with national governmental organisations and industries using palm oil to adopt Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) practices.
It is also raising awareness of the devastating effects unsustainable palm oil has on wildlife.
Rashford explains heartbreaking reason behind his celebration after wonder free-kick against Wales
On Tuesday night, Marcus Rashford lit up what had previously been an underwhelming final group game against Wales with what we can only describe as an absolute stunner of a free-kick.
Swapping out his usual knuckleball technique for a whipped but equally fast-paced finish into the top right corner, the 25-year-old wheeled away to celebrate with the travelling fans but not long after, he dropped to his news and pointed to the sky.
While not an entirely uncommon celebration in the world of football, it did seem like a somewhat muted reaction from the Man United forward, especially after such an incredible opening goal.
Speaking to media after the game, it turns out Rashford‘s celebration was dedicated to a close friend who passed away a couple of days prior.
As the Wythenshawe-born star went on to explain, choosing to point to the sky for the celebration was his way of paying tribute to a friend who sadly died following a long battle with cancer.
The joint-leading goalscorer this World Cup went on to say, “I’m pleased I managed to score for him, he’s always been a big supporter of mine. He’s just a great person to have come into my life”. Heartbreaking.
As confirmed by several outlets after the press conference, Rashford’s late friend was Garfield Hayward, a 35-year-old also from Manchester, who is said to have passed away last week.
Nicknamed ‘Garf’, his nephew wrote on social media: “My heart is hurting so much knowing I won’t see you again in this life… it won’t be the same without you being here… You didn’t have a bad bone in your body you would give anything and everything you could with even a single bit of hesitation.” So touching.
It was no wonder Rashford himself was so quick to go and celebrate with his loved ones after the fact.
Rashford made it three goals in as many games at Qatar 2022 following his wonderful free-kick and equally well-worked second goal, with fellow Manc Phil Foden scoring the second goal only seconds after the opener.
England now face Senegal in the Round of 16 and the way these two lads looked on the night, we expect Manchester to be putting on a show come the weekend.
TV doctor Ranj Singh calls out racist joke made at British Curry Awards ceremony
This week, the British Curry Awards held a glitzy black-tie ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the UK’s curry industry.
The prestigious ceremony, also informally known as the ‘Curry Oscars’, takes place every year – seeing a number of awards handed out to the best Asian restaurants across the country.
However, this year’s event was sullied when a white guest presenter made a racist joke on stage, asking: “Why has India never won the World Cup? Because every time they get a corner, they build a shop on it.”
Taking to Twitter after the event last night, TV Doctor and personality Ranj Singh blasted the presenter who made the joke, asking his 174,000 followers “I’m sorry but how is this OK?”
The TV Doctor then went on to release a statement, in which he first said he was “honoured and privileged to be invited as a guest” to the ceremony before continuing to outline why he was ” not the only person that felt uncomfortable tonight.”
Singh asked how the awards ceremony could truly be representing the Asian community fairly when “the host is white, the judging panel is entirely white, the performers on stage are over 90% white”, a racist joke is made on stage, and organisers were “auctioning off a piece by Winston Churchill”, whose relationship with Indian (and Bengali people specifically) is known to have been problematic.
The tweet, shared by Singh on the social media platform last night, has been liked over 1,000 times and retweeted more than 300 at the time of writing.
He then signed off for the evening, writing: “The number of people trying to justify an inappropriate and racist joke on here is saddening. But then again this is Twitter.”
Others have since taken to the platform to agree with Singh, with used David B tweeting: “I couldn’t summarise this better myself.
“The organisers did not consider that #RepresentationMatters – it felt uncomfortable to see so many white people to present, host and judge the awards when there are so many others that could have EASILY represented the community.”
Every year the awards ceremony welcomes a number of high-profile figures, including prominent personalities from the worlds of politics, sport, showbiz and entertainment alongside celebrity chefs and curry restaurant owners and their staff from across the country.
In previous years, attendees have included cricketer Azeem Rafiq, Love Island contestant Priya Gopaldas, and The Apprentice winner Sian Gabbidon.
Following the awards ceremony, organisers have said that an investigation is now under way.