Dara as a Mother

As Dara continues through her motherhood journey, check back every week for updates on how she, baby Sofie and the other orangutans are spending their time.

10/22/2018: Sofie is 4 months old today! According to her Keepers, she has been leaving Mom to experiment with climbing the mesh but is still uncoordinated. Sofie is also starting to reach for objects, is shy around Keeper staff and LOVES to ride and perch on top of Dara’s head. Keep growing little one; you’re doing great!

9/22: Sofie is 3 months old today! She is trying to climb but always has at least one arm or leg still attached to mom. Sofie has been observed “standing” while still holding on to mom. Pay her a visit this weekend and see just how much she’s changed!

8/22: Sofie is 2 months old today! According to her Keepers, Sofie is becoming more aware; learning everyday from Dara. She isn’t quite coordinated with her hands just yet other than hanging onto her mama. Solaris likes to stay close by to the pair but is respectful of their space.


07/11: Keepers introduced Solaris to Dara and Sofie behind-the-scenes yesterday. The introduction went well, so the three went out on exhibit together this morning. Solaris was curious and tried to touch the baby’s feet and hands a few times, but Dara was protective and remains cautious towards this new attention.

07/06: Introducing Sofie – Dara’s baby GIRL! Read more about Dara and her daughter here.

6/22: Just before midnight, Dara gave birth to a healthy, adorable baby! Since Dara had her baby off-exhibit, staff has decided to keep them indoors while the temperatures are nearing triple digits and to let mom and baby bond without interruption. The exact weight and sex of the baby have not yet been determined. Staff will not intervene or separate the baby from Dara unless an issue arises where the baby needs assistance and veterinary attention.


06/20: While her Keepers are getting prepared for the birth, we have a blog written discussing what to expect once the baby arrives, and answer some of the questions about the pregnancy and birth that we’ve received so far.

06/13: We are now in the potential birth window for Dara! Animal care staff have begun taking shifts around the clock and checking in on Dara. You may also spot our Zoo Crew volunteers at the exhibit who are on the lookout for any unusual behavior from Dara during the day. For now, she seems to be resting more and exhibiting more nesting behavior than usual. Stay tuned as we patiently await the baby’s arrival!

06/08: There’s no new news to report this week! Come and visit the Zoo to see what Dara’s been up to in the last period of her pregnancy!

05/31: The baby watch is on! Watch Dara and Solaris anytime and keep an eye out for the birth of their baby in the upcoming weeks. VIEW ORANGUTAN CAM

05/23: Dara’s care team gets an up close view of the baby-to-be via ultrasound.

05/16: Read about how the orangutans make their “bed”, and how mom-to-be Dara is “nesting” in preparation for her baby!

05/09: Listen in on what Chef Yohn and Dr. Colleen have planned for Dara’s diet as she progresses through her pregnancy!

05/04: Join us Sunday, May 20, for Dara’s Baby Shower! Click here for more details!

05/02: Meet Dara’s care team! Consisting of our vet staff and full time Zoo Keepers, Dara is in great hands throughout her pregnancy as well as post-partum. The Keepers equally share a responsibility in Dara’s feeding, training, and other care needs while our Vet staff ensures Dara is having a healthy pregnancy and is available to assist in Dara’s delivery if necessary. 

From left to right: Veterinarian Dr. Colleen, Vet Tech Leah, Lead Asia Zoo Keeper Jill, Zoo Keepers Martha, Nina and Chelsea, Vet Tech Jenn, (not pictured- Zoo Keeper Bethany)

04/25: Dara is training in anticipation for her new baby! Read about how she’s doing and what tools her Keepers are using to prepare her for motherhood on the blog!

04/18: Join the Virginia Zoo Asia Keepers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the orangutan dens, including the one Dara will give birth in and raise her baby!

04/11: Dara’s Pregnant! (read her announcement HERE)