News & Politics

A Salute to an Orangutan Named Kyle

A new primate was born last night at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Kyle the dad can’t believe his luck.

Batang (left) and Kyle. Photo by Ann Batdorf, courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

On Monday night, the primate staff at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed its first Bornean Orangutan born at the institution in 25 years. This is a huge win for captive breeding and conservation efforts for the critically endangered species. Reports from this morning say the mother, Batang, and her baby are healthy and bonding, and staffers are hoping this bodes well for the newborn’s survival. There’s much to celebrate. Nobody, however, is more thrilled than brand-new father and Batang’s mate, Kyle.

It’s no secret that Kyle landed a woman way cooler than he is. Every day, he counts himself lucky that a fellow nerd from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan paired the two of them up, or Batang never would have given him the time of day. It’s funny how things work out. To be honest, Kyle is still completely floored by this news. Batang hadn’t even told him she was pregnant. She probably knew he’d only worry the whole time. She learned to hold that beanbag pillow upright without even telling him she was practicing for a baby. She had it handled. She always does. Batang has always been the H.B.I.C. in the relationship—the adventurous one. Would you believe he hadn’t even tried sushi when he met her? It makes him laugh now to think how sheltered and shy he was before her. She’ll definitely tackle this baby stuff, no problem. She’s already nursing, they say! What a champ. He doesn’t mind that she’s been sequestered to a separate pen; he’s honored to have been invited to play even a small role in this process. Oh, how time changes things. What would his parents think if they saw him now? A father! And Mom is the baddest female in the primate exhibit. How about that.

Kyle just got word it’s a baby boy, and he can’t stop crying. Hopefully the little guy will take after his mother.

Note: A representative from the National Zoo stressed that male orangutans play no role in raising infants and don’t know which they sire. So Kyle is actually even more clueless in real life.

Editorial Fellow

Andrea is a fall 2016 editorial fellow at Washingtonian. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in May and has written for Eater, Outside, and Vice. She lives in Bloomingdale.