Orangutan mom Zoe, who lives at the private Metro Richmond Zoo, had no place to learn motherhood. When she was only nine months old, her own mother died unexpectedly, and she never had the chance to watch other adult females take care of the cubs, according to The Washington Post.
So when Zoe’s first cub was born two years ago, she literally didn’t know what to do with him, and since then little male Taavi has had to be cared for by humans. Before the birth of the second cub, head nurse Jessica Gring tried to show Zoe how to handle the cub with the help of a soft toy, and Zoe was also shown footage of other female orangutans taking care of their offspring on a TV near the enclosure.
This met with partial success as Zoe learned how to properly handle the cub, but still did not know how to feed it. Zoo management asked keeper Whitlee Turner if she and her young son Caleb would show Zoe how to do it. Whitlee willingly agreed, not least because she herself initially had some problems with breastfeeding, with which doctors had to help her.
They kept a baby orangutan as a pet
“I showed her everything without any shame, after all, orangutans don’t wear T-shirts either,” Whitlee Turner described the whole process. And she added that at the same time, Zoe was showing signs that she should hold the cub the same way she holds her son, and where to place him. That’s why she let Caleb latch on to her breast on his own.
“She was so attentive. She looked me in the eye when I spoke and she looked at Caleb as well,” Whitlee complimented the studious Zoe. She didn’t start imitating the nurse’s movements right away, but in less than 24 hours, the zoo staff noticed that the cub was already happily sucking its mother’s milk.
Zoe’s second cub was born at the end of last year, and since then experts at the zoo have been watching them closely. Now, however, they are 100% sure that she has mastered all motherly duties perfectly, so at the end of last week they released a video in which they summarize the whole story.
“She’s got it figured out, she’s a dedicated mom,” exults head nurse Jessica Gring, because caring for young is not a short-term issue for orangutans. In the wild, mothers nurse their offspring up to the age of eight, and the young sometimes become independent only after the age of fourteen.
The caretaker rushed after the drowning orangutan. Resuscitation was also performed
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