Zookeepers are carrying out a paternity test to discover the identity of a baby orangutan’s father.

Ombak was born in March at Basel zoo in Switzerland. But as his mother, a Sumatran orangutan called Kila, shared her enclosure with three males, staff had no idea which one was the baby’s father.

Now a DNA test will solve the mystery surrounding the orangutan’s paternity. Fabia Wyss, the vet at Basel Zoo said that Kila was very popular with the males so any of the three primates – called Bagus, Vendel and Budi – could potentially be the father.

Ombak is only the second orangutan to be born at the zoo since 1900. The first was Ketawa, who is now four-years-old.

The male baby will spend up to seven years being cared for by his mother, learning everything he needs to know about being an orangutan.

Kila was one of a group of orangutans who came to Basel from Leipzig Zoo, in Germany, back in 2012. Ombak is her first baby, although she adopted her two-year-old sister and looked after her after their mother died eight years ago.

Animal DNA tests

Although paternity testing is more commonly associated with humans, this is not the first time it has been used to determine the parentage of animals. Dog breeders may use test results to prove the pedigree of puppies, especially if the parents are successful in competitions.

And a DNA testing project was carried out on loggerhead turtles which revealed that females generally mated with multiple males. But perhaps surprisingly, the results also showed that each male only mated with one female.

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