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Male orangutan steps up to care for 2-year-old daughter after mother dies

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 3:28 AM CST
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DENVER (KCNC) - A male orangutan at the Denver Zoo has stepped up to take on a role that isn’t typically seen in nature. He’s caring for his 2-year-old daughter after her mother died unexpectedly.

After 2-year-old Cerah lost her mother, Nias, to a heart attack in December, she quickly turned to her father, Berani, and he became “Mr. Mom.” It’s not something orangutans normally do, but zookeepers are grateful.

“It’s incredible to see. It’s this giant male with this tiny, little baby,” zookeeper Cindy Cossaboon said. “It’s one of those things where you have this terrible storm, and then, you have the rainbow at the end.”

Orangutan Berani has embraced his role as "Mr. Mom" to 2-year-old daughter Cerah. He cuddles...
Orangutan Berani has embraced his role as "Mr. Mom" to 2-year-old daughter Cerah. He cuddles with her, and they sleep together each night. He is also patient with her and runs after her if she cries.(Source: Denver Zoo, KCNC via CNN)

Berani has clearly embraced his new role. He cuddles with Cerah, and they sleep together each night. He is patient with her and runs after his daughter if she cries.

“He is doing a fantastic job. We couldn’t ask for better care for her,” Cossaboon said.

When Nias had her heart attack, it was tough on both the orangutans and their keepers. She was just 32, and orangutans can live into their 40s and 50s in captivity.

“Not many people get to experience the kind of relationship I get to experience with these animals,” Cossaboon said. “Each have their own personality and own story and these really special moments and memories.”

Zookeepers hope Cerah has a long and healthy life ahead of her. The bond she has with her father has already caught the attention of the public, and their story is a reminder of how similar orangutans are to humans.

“It’s just heartwarming to be able to see something that can bring us all joy and something to look forward to,” Cossaboon said.

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