Heartbreaking news from Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is mourning the loss of our beloved 34-year-old Sumatran Orangutan Karta, who tragically passed away last night.

Karta went into labour at around 6pm last night and gave birth to what is believed to be a stillborn infant. Tragically, just hours later she passed away.

The exact cause of death will not be known until we complete a full post-mortem.

Staff and volunteers are deeply saddened by this loss, which marks a heartbreaking end to an unexpected pregnancy.

Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted said losing Karta was like losing a family member.

“Our hearts are broken; it has been a very tough 12 hours for us,” Elaine said.

“These life events are even more impactful and devastating when we are talking about a critically endangered species like the Sumatran Orangutan.

“This wasn’t a planned pregnancy, with Karta on contraception, but nature intervened and she fell pregnant.

“After careful consideration, we proceeded with the pregnancy because Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild and we believed Karta deserved the opportunity to finally become a mother.

“We were realistic about the challenges faced in the past, and we were doing everything in our power to ensure this had a different ending.

“Our focus now is on supporting our dedicated primate team who have been by Karta’s side through this entire journey, and of course Karta’s partner, Kluet our male Sumatran Orangutan.”

Zoos SA Senior Veterinarian Dr Ian Smith said complications after birth are not unusual for Great Apes.

“Similar to humans, complications at birth or within a few days after birth are not unusual for Great Apes, however, unlike human births, there is less opportunity for medical intervention,” Ian said.

“Such interventions can also have potentially tragic consequences for the orangutan.

“The exact cause of death is unknown at this point, but we will be completing a full post-mortem on Karta and the infant in the coming days.

“Our team was doing everything in their power to support Karta through the pregnancy including night shifts and performing regular ultrasounds.

“An ultrasound was performed on Wednesday which showed a strong heart beat and no signs that the baby was in distress.

“We’re all devastated by this heartbreaking loss.”

The community is welcome to leave messages of condolence to our primate team here:

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Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction and connect people with nature.

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