Back on April 21st, “Jiwa,” a 7 year old male Bornean Orangutan, arrived at Zoo Miami from the Phoenix Zoo as part of an “arranged marriage” with “Bella,” a 9 year old female who, since the death of her mom last September, has been the only Orangutan at Zoo Miami.
Though both individuals are still a bit young to be consummating a relationship, it is important that the introduction process start early so that zoo staff can evaluate whether or not the pairing will be successful. Though these two individuals may be genetically compatible, if they don’t like each other, getting them to successfully reproduce would be a major challenge.
Once Jiwa passed his initial quarantine, he was transported to a holding area that was within sightline of Bella but separated by barriers to prevent any potential aggression.
After several days, zookeepers were encouraged by the interest that each individual seemed to have in the other without showing any signs of aggression. After careful observations, it was decided to give both individuals access out onto their large habitat together so that they could not only interact with each other should they choose, but they would be in a large enough area to be able to avoid aggression should it arise.
On Monday, both Bella and Jiwa were given access to the Orangutan habitat while staff carefully observed them, hoping that they would indeed get along.
At first, Jiwa went off on his own exploring his new surroundings while Bella watched from a distance while she did her own thing.
Eventually, they would get closer to each other with Jiwa stretching out his long arm in an effort to connect. They each seemed curious about what the other was doing but they never displayed aggression.
Then, as they sat across from each other, Bella slowly leaned in and gently placed her lips on Jiwa’s chin while he tilted his head back.
Soon after, at a different location, facing each other again, Jiwa gently leaned his head against Bella’s as they both exchanged what appeared to be a truly tender moment.
Throughout the afternoon, both individuals appeared to gradually spend more and more time with each other without any indication of aggression. Though this is not a guarantee that this pair will be able to successfully reproduce, it is a very positive sign that they will bond as they sexually mature and be able to contribute offspring to this critically endangered species.
Both Bella and Jiwa will be out on the Orangutan habitat together moving forward so we encourage everyone to come see them!