Orangutan dads are seldom active in the care of their kids. A female spends more of her life with her offspring than any other animal on the planet. Despite all odds, this orangutan nurtured his two-year-old baby at the Denver Zoo by adopting the role of a mother. After the mother died, the male assumed responsibility for parenting his children.
“We’re terribly heartbroken to report that Nias, the matriarch of our Sumatran orangutan family, passed away unexpectedly last Thursday,” the zoo said on social media. Nias entered the Denver Zoo in 2005 at the age of 17 and has spent the previous 15 years entertaining visitors and advocating for her imperiled species.
Hesty, 10, and Cerah, 2, her two kids, were regularly seen caring for and playing with her. We do not know what caused Nias’ death at this time and are awaiting the results of a necropsy done by our collaborators at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Services.
Nias was known as the “Queen Bee” of the Zoo’s Great Apes exhibit. Her caregivers understood not to reward another orangutan unless they also meant to reward Nias, and her partner, Berani, always followed her lead. She maintained a watchful check on Hesty until she got more independent, never letting her out of her sight. Cerah, born in 2018, soothed Nias, and guests watched her swinging about on her own, yet under mom’s watchful care.
Cindy Cossaboon of KIRO7, Primate Keeper Cindy Cossaboon, who has been with Nias since her first day at the Zoo, said it was amazing to see this gigantic guy with this small, little infant. “It’s one of those situations where you have this awful storm, and then you have the rainbow at the end. He’s doing an excellent job. We couldn’t have asked for better treatment for her.”
Nias, like a caring father, consoles his daughter whenever she cries, snuggling with her before bed or when she screams at night.
Cossaboon went on to say that not many people get to have the type of relationship he does with his animals. Everyone has their own personality, narrative, and amazing adventures and memories.
Cerah’s zookeepers wish her a good and long life. The public’s attention has been stirred by her bond with her father, and their story reminds them of how similar orangutans are to humans.
“It’s really great to see something that can offer us all joy and give us something to look forward to,” Cossaboon said. Please share this heartfelt family tale with your friends and family members since it symbolizes love and family.