When a British mom visiting a zoo in Vienna, Austria, stopped to breastfeed her baby, she gained support from the most unlikely source. A female orangutan in an enclosure came to sit beside her, holding her gaze and even raising a hand to the glass as if wanting to touch the little baby.
“It was one of the most surreal moments of my life that had me in tears,” mom Gemma Copeland explained to Love What Matters.
One orangutan, an adult female named Sol, who was sitting 5–6 feet away, “carried a piece of cloth to the window and sat down with me,” said Copeland.
Moments later, Copeland noticed that Jasper was hungry and started to breastfeed him. “The way the orangutan reacted took my breath away,” the mom recalled. “She kept looking at me, then my son, then back again.”
Sol—whom Copeland later discovered had given birth to a stillborn—sat with the mom of one for 30 minutes, stroking the glass and gazing at the duo. A respectful crowd gathered to watch, with many parents watching with their children closely and some of them even explaining to their own children what was happening between Copeland and her baby.
Copeland’s partner captured photos of the moving interaction.
“My breastfeeding experiences in public have been diverse,” the mom revealed to Bored Panda, “some people looking curious, others content, and the odd negative one.” But at the Viennese zoo, Copeland and her baby received nothing but acceptance.
An animal lover and avid traveler, Copeland believes that fate placed her beside the orangutan enclosure at that moment, on that day. “[We] almost missed the orangutans,” she recalled, “they were too far away to see properly.
“It was only when I turned to put our little boy in his pram that I noticed the orangutan had come closer, so I asked my partner if we could go back and see her,” she continued. “Then, the magic of that moment happened.”
Copeland also shared that “it was honestly the best moment of my life, after giving birth.”
The mother later was determined to reserve a special place in her heart for Sol, forever.
When Copeland shared her moving story on social media, it reached millions of people, reported Bored Panda. Wishing to use the platform to effect change, Copeland urges anyone touched by her story to consider donating to Borneo Orangutan Rescue, a group dedicated to the welfare, rehabilitation, and release of these endangered great apes.
“The nurturing care of our children is paramount, regardless of race, gender, and even species. At that moment, we were one,” Copeland reflected.
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