Leon was Lisa’s third child and born in November 2018.
When Leon was born, we were a bit surprised by his looks. Even though he was exceptionally cute with a lot of orange hair, Leon’s head and facial expression looked a bit off. Something else we noticed was that Leon seemed to have difficulty holding onto Lisa: he often had his arms stretched and was dangling from Lisa a lot, as if he was too weak to remain in the proper baby clinging position. Whereas orangutan infants usually start trying to leave their mothers at around the age of 6 months by pulling at the surrounding vegetation, we did not observe any of these attempts by Leon. We also had the feeling that Leon struggled to crawl across Lisa’s body to reach her nipples and only saw him suckle on rare occasions. All in all, these observations suggest that Leon could have been developmentally delayed. We saw Lisa supporting Leon by holding him and frequently readjusting his position on her. Having such a patient and caring mother definitely helped Leon to deal with his limitations.
Sadly, in August 2019, 7 weeks after they had been seen last, we found Lisa without Leon. Because orangutan babies at this age cannot survive without their mothers, we have to conclude that Leon died. We will probably never know what happened to Leon, but based on our observations it is possible that Leon was suffering from a congenital condition that did not allow him to grow up.
We hope that his mother Lisa will recover from her loss soon and will try to keep an extra eye on her and Leon’s big brother Lois, throughout this event.