Sumatran orangutans like Berani are not known for being particularly involved in child-rearing. Yet after his mate Nias passed away last December, that’s exactly what he has done!
Nias was just 32 when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest resulting from an undetected degenerative heart disease. Incredibly, after she passed away, her partner took over parenting Cerah, their 2-year-old baby.
These orangutans live at the Denver Zoo in Colorado. According to the World Wildlife Federation, Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with only 14,613 of them remaining in the world. Nias was first brought to the zoo back in 2005, where she had two children. Hesty, her oldest daughter, is now 11.
After Nias died, the zookeepers were concerned her baby would miss out on important socialization that she’ll need to develop properly. Cerah is nearly weaned, so there was no need for a surrogate mother, but they feared she wouldn’t get enough cuddle time and motherly corrections without Nias around.
That’s when Berani decided to step up, defying the norm and caring for his daughter by himself!
“For everyone wondering how our little Cerah is doing, our keepers will tell you that we are so fortunate that her dad Berani has stepped up to the plate,” the zoo wrote on Facebook.
In the wild, orangutan males are not involved with their offspring. To see Berani step up as Mr. Mom is an extremely rare situation — and Cerah couldn’t have asked for a better dad. 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.
Hesty has also been helping out with her baby sister. Throughout the day, she plays with her, holds her, and keeps her company.
Carlie McGuire, the zoo’s public relations coordinator, said in retrospect they’re not entirely surprised that Berani has assumed a larger role in parenting his offspring than most male orangutans do. After all, he “has always been an exception to the typical role of a male orangutan.”
He was paternal with Hesty when she was younger, even though she is not his biological daughter. Clearly, nothing can keep him from being a great dad!
Berani could teach humans a thing or two about adapting to unexpected situations. We hope this precious little family continues to thrive!
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