If there’s one constant throughout the animal kingdom, it’s a mother’s love for her children. It’s commonly known that the mom will naturally care for their newborns, feeding them and giving them means for survival.
So when a young animal’s mother dies, it’s usually bad news. With no mother to care for them, these animals usually need human care until they’re old enough to survive on their own.
But in an unusual instance, a young orangutan lost her mother — and her dad stepped up to become “Mr. Mom.”
Last month at the Denver Zoo, a female orangutan named Nias unexpectedly passed away. It was a sad situation, and zookeepers worried what would happen to her Nias’ two-year-old daughter Cerah after the death of her mother.
But to everyone’s surprise, Cerah’s father, Berani, stepped up to raise her instead.
While humans generally expect the father to be involved in raising a child, that’s not the case at all for orangutans, which makes this so surprising.
“In the wild, orangutan males are not involved with their offspring,” the Denver Zoo wrote. “To see Berani step up as Mr. Mom, is an extremely rare situation.”
And this proud dad is happy to step into his new role as his daughter’s main caretaker.
“Cerah couldn’t have asked for a better dad,” the Denver Zoo wrote. “Berani is so attentive and protective of her, seeing to all her needs. He will carry her, comfort her, and even snuggles her when she sleeps.”
While it’s an unusual and surprising dynamic, the zoo staff isn’t entirely surprised: Berani has already proven to be an unusually attentive father figure to Nia’s first daughter, 11-year-old Hesty, who has now been helping him out raising the infant.
“Berani was known for treating Hesty… like his own offspring,” Carlie McGuire, Public Relations Coordinator at the zoo, told Bored Panda.
“Hesty is not Berani’s biological daughter, but he always treated her as such. So it’s no surprise to us now that he’s stepped in to take care of Cerah.”
Carlie clarifies that while the male orangutan can care for his offspring, he can’t actually “replace” the mother: “Nias was the true leader of that family group,” she told Bored Panda.
But Cerah is old enough to be weened off nursing, so they won’t need a surrogate mother, and Berani can perform most of the needed parental duties.
It isn’t known yet what Nias died from. The zoo says the 32-year-old orangutan mother had been “delighting guests and serving as an ambassador for her critically endangered species” for 15 years.
While her death is sad, she’d be happy to know that her baby is in such good hands thanks to Berani.
How beautiful — it’s so rare and moving to see a male animal step up to care for their child like this. Sometimes a parent’s love defies nature.
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