In its 27-year history, the Center for Great Apes has successfully implemented birth control methods for all sanctuary residents, with no birth control “failures” … until now.

Sunshine, a 37-year-old female orangutan who arrived at the Wauchula sanctuary three years ago from the entertainment world, gave birth to a little female one morning in February. Sunshine—or Sunny, as she is called—had been on birth control since arriving at the sanctuary. Staff had no reason to think she was pregnant. Minutes after the birth, caregivers noticed a tiny bit of orange fluff climbing up to Sunny’s chest.

While reproducing more orangutans is not part of the sanctuary’s plan, the little one—named Cahaya, which in Indonesian means light, radiant and shine—will have all the love and care other great ape residents receive.

Sunny is being a loving and caring mother. She gave birth to three previous infants at a breeding compound, but they were each taken from her and she never raised them. Sunny watchfully allows others in her group to interact with the baby.

The father, 15-year-old Archie, is fascinated with the baby, and can barely contain his desire to touch and kiss her. Sunshine lets Archie touch Cahaya, but not hold or carry her. Archie’s 17-year-old sister, Keagan, is a wonderful aunt. Sunny trusts her and allows her more interactions with Cahaya than she does Archie.

Despite the surprise, it’s hard for center staff not to feel happiness and joy for Sunshine because she will finally be able to raise her own infant.

The Center for Great Apes was featured in Florida Currents in May 2013. The story has been reposted to our website. To learn more about the center’s work, visit