Bulu Mata is an orphaned 12-week-old baby orangutan, brought into Monkey World in Dorset, England, earlier this month after his mother died from intestine problems a week after giving birth in Budapest Zoo. Staff is now nursing the baby and hope one of their other female orangutans will adopt him so he does not fixate on his human carers and get rejected.
Kate Diver, who is Head of Apes at Monkey World, is one of the four staffers currently nursing the little guy, whose name translates as “long eyelashes” in Indonesian, round the clock.
But another female, who is looking at the scene through the window, is far more important. She is Hsaio-qua, an 18-year-old orangutan who’s been at the rescue centre since she was abandoned at an amusement park at the age of five. Kate hopes Hsaio-qua will soon take over their duties and become Bulu Mata’s mom.
Staff chose this particular female because her maternal instinct is strong: she’s had two sons of her own and three years ago had adopted a baby (Awan) who had been abandoned by her mother — as soon as she realized the baby’s predicament, she took her into her arms.
So staff were hopeful when they introduced Bulu Mata to Hsaio-qua and she did show show some interest, touching and sniffing the baby. However, but she is yet to pick him up and take him as her own child, the way she did with Awan. (Scroll down for the video report.)
1. Bulu Mata snuggles into his favorite blue blanket at Monkey World where staff hope he will be adopted by another orangutan.
2. Bulu Mata is given a helping hand as he takes his first baby steps.
3. Here the baby is chewing on a teething ring to help soothe sore gums.
Alison Cronin, director of Monkey World, said:
We’re really confident she will love Bulu Mata. He’s got everything he needs to bring out the nurturing instinct in her — huge eyes, cute little wriggles.
Now weighing seven pounds, Bulu Mata is already trying to push himself up to stand. To help him, staff often hold his fingers and help him “walk” a few baby steps. It’s essential that he builds up his strength so that, when he is adopted, Bulu Mata can hold on tight to his new mom as she whirls around the trees, high above the ground, in her enclosure.
When he’s not trying to stand up or sleep (which, like with most babies, takes up a lot of his time), Bulu Mata plays with the teething ring above his baby mat he lies on and explores his little nursery.
But the baby’s eyes can’t yet focus properly and the experts at Monkey World speculate that this may be the reason he hasn’t yet bonded with Hsaio-qua. In the next few weeks, as the baby develops, this will happen naturally. Then, Alison thinks, it’s a “done deal”. She explains:
All he needs to do is look at Hsaio-qua and reach out his hand. She’s so maternal, she won’t be able to resist. It will make all the difference to his life. He’s missing out on so much. The only long-term relationship orangutans ever have is between a mother and her baby. It’s vital he grows up with primates of his own kind, otherwise he will find it hard to fit in.
Typically, orangutan babies remain with mom for seven years — the longest childhood of any ape — acquiring the skills they need to survive and get on with other apes.
4. The 12-week-old orangutan snuggles up close to carer Kate Diver, who wears a specially-made orange jacket with tassels that mimic orangutan fur so he learns how to hold on to his new mother tightly.
5. Hsiao-quai cuddles up to three-year-old female orangutan, Awan, who she adopted after she was abandoned by her mother.
Bulu Mata is one of the “critically endangered” Sumatran orangutans of whom there are only 7,000 left in the wild. For now, he gets around by clinging to his carers. They all wear a specially-made orange jacket with tassels that resemble orangutan fur so the baby learns how to hold on to mom tightly — no one wants him to start falling when she’s swinging from tree to tree. Kate Diver says:
He clings on so tight that peeling him off is really hard work. I tie my hair back but he still sometimes manages to grab some and when he does, it really hurts. He’s got a vice-like grip.
But he’s such a cheerful little chap — he’s got the most gorgeous temperament, very laid back and gentle. He never whinges and only cries when he’s seriously hungry.
After feeding, I have to wind him. I change his nappies, too — he’s so tiny he’s in premature baby nappies. They’re necessary because he doesn’t have a mum to keep him clean and away from any mess.
Then I put on the nappy cream — just like with a human baby. He’s starting to teethe so I put Bonjela on his gums to try and ease any pain. The only thing I can’t do is shin up trees the way his mum would have done.
Still, human care is second best the only option available for now and until Hsaio-qua step up to the plate.
And here is the video report:
Source: The Daily Mail.
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