CANBERRA, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- An endangered Sumatran orangutan at Adelaide Zoo in Australia has died in childbirth overnight, just hours after giving birth to an infant thought to have been stillborn.
The 34-year-old orangutan Karta went into labor at the zoo at around 6 p.m. on Thursday night, but died shortly after.
The infant, which also died but was possibly a stillbirth, was the sixth child that Karta has lost since 1995, with the last one occurring in 2015.
Senior veterinarian at Adelaide Zoo, Dr. Ian Smith said the entire Adelaide Zoo community was heartbroken by the death, but added that a cause of death would not be known until a post-mortem was undertaken
"Unlike human births, there is less opportunity for medical intervention," Smith told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.
"An ultrasound was performed on Wednesday which showed a strong heartbeat and no signs that the baby was in distress."
"We're all devastated by this heartbreaking loss."
Smith said Karta's passing was particularly upsetting for the team considering the amount of round-the-clock care given to her during her unexpected pregnancy. She fell pregnant last year despite being on contraceptive pills.
"Our team was doing everything they could to support Karta through the pregnancy, including night shifts and performing regular ultrasounds," Smith said.
It is believed there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, while the population is believed to be declining at the alarming rate of up to 1,000 every year.
The Sumatran orangutan's close relative, the Bornean orangutan in considered the less endangered of the two orangutan species, with around 50,000 believed to be living in the jungles of Borneo.