Baby Orangutan At Oregon Zoo Named After Dolly Parton’s Famous Song ‘Jolene’


Twenty-year-old Kitra, a member of the endangered Bornean Orangutan species, birthed an offspring on April 13th, whom the Oregon Zookeepers named after Dolly Parton’s 1974 hit song, “Jolene.”

The zoo announced the new birth on social media with a video of Jolene and her mother Kitra, with a caption that read, “After weeks of consideration, care staff has selected a name for Kitra’s new baby. Meet Jolene!”


“Flaming Locks of Auburn Hair”

The name was inspired by Dolly’s description of the sexy bank teller she sang about in “Jolene,” where she mentioned that she had “flaming locks of auburn hair.” Like the song said, baby orangutan Jolene shared the same auburn hair color, so it was only right to give her that name.


RELATED: Dolly Parton Recalls Losing Precious Gift In A House Fire


The overseer of the primate area, Kate Gilmer, said that it took a while to determine Jolene’s sex at first, hence the zookeepers left mom and newborn plenty of room to bond for weeks. “Once we confirmed she was a girl, our keeper team knew right away what they wanted to call her. They’ve been playing the song on repeat ever since!” Gilmer said.

In 2015, the new mom joined the Oregon Zoo in Portland from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Jolene’s dad, Bob, also joined the zoo from South Carolina’s Greenville Zoo the previous year. The moves were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Orangutans.

Kitra takes care of Jolene herself

Oregon Zoo / Instagram

Kitra, as a first-time mom, has impressed the zookeepers with how well she has been handling motherhood, needing only little assistance. “We’ve never been so happy to put in hours of work on something that didn’t happen,” Gilmore said. “We were prepared to step in if Kitra needed us, but she’s done everything perfectly on her own so far.”

As the weather gets less chilly, the orangutan family tends to come out more and can be seen by visitors, although the doting new mom gets to decide whether she and her baby will stay in or hang out. “Kitra can decide whether she and Jolene are up for a trip outside or if they’d rather have privacy,” Gilmore said. “As Jolene gets older and more curious, we expect them to be outside more and more.”

In a press release following Jolene’s birth, Gilmore gave the announcement, “It’s great to see Kitra taking such good care of her baby. There’s still a lot that could happen, so we’re being very cautious and giving her as much quiet time as possible. But so far she seems to be taking to motherhood quite well.”

Oregon Zoo / Instagram

The release mentioned that “Baby orangutans are completely dependent on their mothers for their first two years, making the bond between a mother and her child very close.” Senior zookeeper Asaba Mukobi also added, “She pulled the baby close to her right away, and the baby appears to be strong and healthy.”

It is nice to see that the country music star, Dolly Parton, inspired the name of the endangered Baby Orangutan.

RELATED: The Inside Scoop On Dolly Parton’s Sleep And Skincare Secrets

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