Heart-Melting! After his wife’s death, an orangutan father raises his daughter alone

Orangutan fathers are not typically active in their young’s day-to-day care and upbringing. No other mammal on the planet spends a more significant portion of its life caring for its young than a female. 

Despite the many challenges, this orangutan father at the Denver Zoo successfully brought up his two-year-old kid by acting as if he were a mother. Following the mother’s passing, the father assumed full responsibility for upbringing of his offspring.
On Thursday, the Zoo announced on social media that Nias, the matriarch of their family of Sumatran orangutans, had passed away unexpectedly. “We’re deeply saddened to share that Nias, the matriarch of our Sumatran orangutan family, died unexpectedly last Thursday,” the Zoo wrote. 

Nias began her life at the Denver Zoo in 2005 when she was just 17 years old and has spent the past 15 years educating guests, entertaining them, and fighting for the survival of her endangered species. 

 Her two daughters, Hesty, 10, and Cerah, 2, were often seen taking care of her and playing with her. Hesty is ten years old, and Cerah is two years old. We await the outcomes of an autopsy performed by our partners at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Services. We do not know what caused Nias’ death and await those findings.
Nias earned a well-deserved reputation as the “Queen Bee” of the Great Apes exhibit at the Zoo. Her handlers knew they should not reward another orangutan unless they also intended to give it to Nias, and Berani, the orangutan she was mating with, always followed Nias’s direction. She never allowed her to get out of sight while Hesty was still dependent on her, and she kept a close eye on her during that time. 

Nias became more tranquil after the birth of Cerah in 2018, which was followed by visitors noticing that she was swinging around on her own while still being closely watched by her mother. Primate Keeper Cindy Cossaboon of KIRO7, who has been working with Nias since her first day at the Zoo, mentioned that seeing this gigantic guy with this tiny little infant was terrific. Cossaboon has been working with Nias since her first day at the Zoo. 

“It’s one of those things where you have this terrible storm, and then you have the rainbow at the end. He is doing a fantastic job. We couldn’t ask for better care for her.”
Nias is a doting father, so whenever his daughter cries, he consoles and soothes her. He would even cuddle with her when she fell asleep or call at night. Cossaboon continued by saying that only a few people could have the same kind of connection with these animals as I do. Every person has a unique personality, background, unforgettable experiences, and memories. 

 The people caring for Cerah at the Zoo hope she has a long and healthy life. The narrative of her relationship with her father has caught the public’s interest, reminding them of the striking similarities between humans and orangutans.
“It’s just heartwarming to be able to see something that can bring us all joy and something to look forward to,” said Cossaboon. “It’s just heartwarming.” 


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