(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) -- A 22-year-old orangutan died an hour after giving birth at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.
The 4½-pound male baby was the first orangutan born at the zoo, and officials said the mother, Sayang, seemed to have a normal labor and delivery.
"Everything was proceeding normally. It was exactly what we would expect," zoo veterinarian Joe Smith said. "She took the baby in her arms and held it to her chest and was cleaning it off and showed all the natural maternal instincts that she should."
Zookeepers watched but left Sayang alone during her labor Sunday. Smith said the orangutan had made herself a bed on a shelf and lay on it during her labor and until about 45 minutes after giving birth. Then she crawled down to the floor, where she lay on her back and passed out, he said.
"It was a very sudden, abrupt thing," Smith said. Zookeepers rushed in and tried to revive Sayang with CPR and a defibrillator for about 45 minutes before they pronounced her dead.
"This is just devastating to our keepers," animal curator Mark Weldon said. "This is like losing a member of your family."
Meanwhile, zookeepers are working round-the-clock shifts nursing the newborn, which must be fed every two to three hours.
The Orangutan Species Survival Plan committee will have to determine whether to allow the baby to remain at the Fort Wayne zoo or place it in another to match it with a mother.
"We would have to find another female with a proven history of maternal care," Smith said.
One option is to find a female orangutan that has recently lost an infant but is still able to nurse, Weldon said.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)