PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Babies are a handful, whether they are human or primate.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, introduced their newest little handful to her adoring public – 9-month-old Cahya. She’s a baby siamang, a type of gibbon.
Cahya had a rough start to life, but is now really starting to learn the ropes.
“We had to hand-raise her from about a week old,” said Ken Kaemmerer, the curator of mammals at the zoo.
The little bundle of joy has long arms and wide brown eyes. Her young parents, Leela and Merlin, just couldn’t care for her.
“We tried to put her back with the parents,” said Kaemmerer. “These were first-time parents, and sometimes first-time parents don’t quite know what to do and they have to be taught or they have to learn themselves.”
They have since been proudly watching baby Cahya grow and learn the ropes of becoming an adult siamang.
WEB EXTRA: Cahya’s Zoo Debut —
“We keep her near her parents, so that she sees everything they do, and they continue to see what she does, so that she can mimic what they do,” Kaemmerer said.
Keepers have stepped in as surrogate parents, becoming quite fond of the cuddly baby, who requires a lot of attention.
“We hold her a lot, she needs comfort, she occasionally needs discipline,” said Kaemmerer. “We allow her to start climbing and play by herself on her jungle gym that we’ve got set up.”
Cahya’s grown from just barely a pound at birth, to six pounds.
“We had to give her bottles, just like a human infant,” said Kaemmerer. “In fact, we used the same infant formula that we would use for an infant baby.”
When she’s full grown, like her mama, she will be closer to 35 or 40 pounds. So she still has a lot of growing to do.
“Siamangs, in general, are endangered species, so every animal is valuable and that’s why we put so much time into her, just as we do every animal.” Kaemmerer added.
Keepers sit outside with her and encourage her to climb and use the vines to swing.
“It’s not quite the same as mom, but we are doing the best we can,” he said.
And that’s all any parent, or surrogate, can hope for.