Denver Zoo's baby orangutan wants to meet you!

Hesty, the Denver Zoo's new effing adorable baby Sumatran orangutan, is ready to see and be seen. Born on June 19 to mother Nias and father Mias, she made her public debut on exhibit this past Saturday. (No word on whether the zoo's other baby animals were insanely jealous or not.)

Hesty was the first of her species to be born at the zoo in twenty-five years. Now happy and healthy, she had a rough start.

Look below to get the whole story -- and more photos!

Like, for example, this one!

From the Denver Zoo:

Hesty was born to mother, Nias (Nee-us), and father, Mias (Mee-us), on June 19. She is only the fourth birth of this species at the zoo and the first since 1985. Orangutans are tiny at birth, weighing three to four pounds and are completely dependent upon their mothers.

Although initially Hesty seemed to be doing fine, staff could not tell for sure if she was nursing regularly and on June 22, the infant appeared weak. Denver Zoo veterinarians sedated Nias to exam her and Hesty. During the examination veterinarians discovered Hesty was significantly dehydrated and placed her in the proper nursing position. Hesty ingested about 70 milliliters of breast milk and weighed 3.67 pounds at the end of her feeding.

"After the exam, we tried to help Hesty locate mom's nipple through operant conditioning training. Nias also let us feed the infant formula through the mesh in her enclosure. We planned to assist Nias and Hesty in this manner until she could nurse on her own. Unfortunately she took a turn for the worse," Schwetz said.

On the morning of July 1, staff found Hesty nearly unresponsive. Veterinary staff examined her immediately, finding she was dehydrated and unable to maintain her body temperature.

"We moved her into an incubator next to her mother's quarters and bottle fed her. We made sure Hesty and Nias could see each other the entire time. Nias remained interested in the infant while we provided critical care," Senior Veterinarian Dr. Felicia Knightly said.

Over the next 18 days, Hesty nearly doubled her body weight from 2.86 pounds to 4.4 pounds under the care of veterinarians and zookeepers. Nias responded well when staff was able to reunite the two on July 19. However, Hesty still didn't immediately know how to nurse. Staff sedated Nias on July 23 to teach her how to find Nias's breast and ensure she could nurse on her own. Fortunately this time, the training appears to be successful as Hesty has begun nursing on her own. Staff continues to be ready to assist Nias by providing supplemental formula to Hesty if necessary.

"Hesty is so important to us and her species. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure her wellbeing. We're watching her very closely and taking it day by day, but we're pleased with her progress so far," says Schwetz.

Get a sneak peek at Hesty in the video below. And then go visit her at the zoo!

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar