“She looked me straight in the eye and then raised her hand as if to touch my son… She sat with me for approximately half an hour, kept stroking the glass and lay down next to me as if to support and protect me,” Gemma Copeland said later.
Orangutans are one of the most incredible animals in nature. Among all its diverse and wonderful fauna, these sweet hominid primates are characterized by their large size and reddish fur, in addition to their, clearly, great intelligence. They are able to manufacture and use sophisticated tools for survival purposes and they display a remarkable ability to build nests.
The population of these species of apes are among those that have decreased the most in recent decades, leaving only about 70,000 individuals (according to government figures in 2017) in the jungles of Bordea and Sumatra. All species of this genus are close to extinction, according to figures provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
These specimens stand out because, despite being lonely, its mothers and their young are known for their strong and lasting bond. Maternal ties play a fundamental role in the species as a part of the female essence. They have an inclination to care for and carry a baby in their arms.
This holds true even if the baby isn’t an orangutan, but a human instead. Their natural pull to the express and demonstrate their motherhood is seen when they observe small puppies or babies in front of them and they feel the need to pick them up in their arms. This is what happened a few days ago in Vienna, Austria.
“I went to the window for a closer look and sat down by the window so my baby could see the orangutan who was roughly 5/6ft away. She then got up, carried a piece of cloth to the window and sat down with me. She looked directly into my eyes then placed her hand up as if to touch my son I was in awe of this beautiful creature already. (…) She sat with me for approximately half an hour, kept stroking the glass and lay down next to me as if to support and protect me.”
– Wrote Emma Copeland on her Facebook
These apes share 96.4% of our genes and, after this experience, Gemma has become an activist for their welfare, seeking to raise money for the rescue, rehabilitation and liberation of these animals. She wants to use the massive reach of her story (more than 5 million people) to help the orangutans.
“My breastfeeding experiences in public have been diverse, some people looking curious, others content and the odd negative one. Once I was asked to cover my little boy whilst he was feeding to which I responded by handing over a spare muslin and asking them if they minded covering their shallow-minded selves. (…) For all our modern advances, this moment proved to me that although species apart, we’re just the same. We are all equal. The nurturing care of our children is paramount, regardless of race, gender, and even species. At that moment, we were one.”
– Gemma told BoredPanda