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Double joy for blind orangutans

Rare twins have been born to blind orangutan parents who are both lucky to be alive.

The babies were born at the Batu Mbelin orangutan quarantine centre in North Sumatra where both their parents are in long-term care.

Their mother Gober lost her sight to cataracts and had to be rescued in 2008 by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, which receives funding from the UK's Orangutan Foundation.

Her blindness was forcing her to raid crops, putting her at a high risk of being killed by villagers.

While staff at the centre try to prevent orangutans breeding until after they are released into the wild, they decided that having a baby would improve life for Gober, who is over 40.

The twins' father Leuser was confiscated as an illegal pet and released fit and well into the wild in a national park, but strayed outside park boundaries and was shot by villagers.

He was found with 62 air rifle wounds, including three pellets lodged in his eyes.

Mother and babies - a boy named Ganteng, which translates as handsome, and a girl called Ginting - are doing well and it is hoped they will eventually be released into the wild.

Ian Singleton, director of conservation for the Swiss-based Pan Eco Foundation, said: "Rather than being bored, Gober now has the full-time responsibility of her infants, not just one but two of them.

"Twins are not unheard of but they are certainly not common and relatively few zoos will have experience of it. The fact that both parents are blind makes it a doubly special event."

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