JAKARTA, Indonesia – A blind orangutan at a rescue center in western Indonesia has given birth to a healthy pair of twins.
Ian Singleton, who works with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said Thursday that Gober, the mother, so far appeared able to care for the babies herself.
"But vets and staff are ready to step in if necessary," he said, adding that Leuser, the father, also is blind.
There are around 50,000 orangutans left in the wild, 90 percent of them in Indonesia, with more than 2,000 others in rescue centers.
Some of those at centers were seized in the illegal wildlife trade and others orphaned when their mothers strayed from rapidly disappearing rain forests in search of food.
The twins — a boy named Ganteng and a girl named Ginting — were born last Friday.
"It's hoped that both infants will eventually be released to a life in the wild, something that has been denied both their parents due to their blindness," Singleton said.
The twins' mother, who has cataracts in both eyes, was captured by vets two years ago in an area surrounded by palm oil plantations.
They were worried she'd be killed by villagers for routinely raiding crops and took her to the rescue center.
The father arrived in 2006 after he was found outside a village far from a national forest in Jambi province with 62 air rifle shots to his body.
Several pellets were lodged in his eyes, leaving him sightless.
"Normally we try to prevent orangutans breeding at the center," said Singleton.
"But we decided to make an exception," he said, because having babies to care for would dramatically help to improve the mother's quality of life.