“Don’t want hand-rearing”Zoo Basel puts baby orangutan to sleep – now a shitstorm is raging

After giving birth to her youngest, orangutan Revital died (22). The four-day-old cub was euthanized due to the scarcely existing chances of survival. The reintegration after hand-rearing is extremely difficult, explains the zoo.


Vanessa Travassi

Jeanne Dutoit
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Orangutan Revital (22) died unexpectedly four days after giving birth to her youngest. She was found lifeless in her enclosure by animal keepers on Tuesday morning.

Basel Zoo

The young animal had to be euthanized due to

The young animal had to be euthanized due to “hardly any chances of life”. On the net, many cannot understand this decision.

Basel Zoo


“Revital was a rather sensitive, stubborn female orangutan and a caring, good mother,” says Zolli. The body of the animal will now be pathologically examined in order to get information about the cause of death in the next few weeks.

Basel Zoo

Sad news from Basel Zoo. On Tuesday he reported via Facebook that orangutan mom Revital (22) died unexpectedly four days after the birth of her youngest. “The animal keepers found them lifeless in the enclosure in the morning,” Basel Zoo wrote in the post. She was exhausted in the days after the birth and sparsely fetched food and water. “She seemed tired but not sick,” the zoo said.

Due to “hardly any chance of survival”, the young animal had to be euthanized in consultation with those responsible for the breeding book and various orangutan experts. Criticism and incomprehension hailed under the post.

Shitstorm after euthanizing the four-day-old orangutan

“Couldn’t you have raised the baby by hand? I don’t understand the decision,” writes a user under the Zolli Facebook post. “Why do you put the little one to sleep?” or “I’m really shaken” can be read further. Others can understand the decision of the customs officer. “Everyone is crying out for animal-friendly housing. Wouldn’t the little one have died in nature?”, the criticism is countered.

One day after Revital’s death, zoo director Olivier Pagan explains why Zolli didn’t take care of raising the primate baby himself. “No, we don’t want hand-rearing,” says the director. The customs officer has experience with it. “Reintegration into the great ape world is very difficult afterwards. Don’t confuse the short-term success of hand-rearing with the long-term goal.” Pagan speaks of a “dream” when it comes to successful hand-rearing. The zoo thinks long-term and wanted to spare the young animal this ordeal.

Zoo director shows understanding

The zoo director says 20 minutes about the shitstorm on social media. “The sympathy and interest in the fate of animals is something primal human.” The zoo wanted and had to face up to this discourse.

It is not the first death of a young zoo animal. Several young animals have died in Swiss zoos in recent weeks. Almost three weeks ago, giraffe baby Tufani had to be put to sleep four months after birth at Basel Zoo. The Zurich Zoo also announced in mid-January that a bull elephant died shortly after birth. Together with the Eaza Ex situ program (EEP), which is responsible for placing young animals in zoos, they now want to decide when a new breeding female will come to Basel Zoo. In addition to orangutan male Vendel (22), Revital’s comrade, the orangutan group in Zolli consists of Maia (15), her daughter Padma (4) and Silvestre (13), who left England for Basel on December 15th came.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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