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Denver Zoo Orangutan Steps Up as 'Mr. Mom' after Young Daughter's Mother Dies Unexpectedly

Kelli Bender
·2-min read

Courtesy Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo has found the silver lining to a recent loss.

In December, the Colorado zoo lost its Sumatran orangutan matriarch Nias. The unexpected death left the zoo, which had cared for the "Queen Bee" primate for 15 years, heartbroken and left 3-year-old Cerah without a mother.

Initially, the zoo was concerned about how Cerah would adjust to life without Nias, but then Berani stepped up to fill the caretaker role. Berani is a 27-year-old male Sumatran orangutan and the father to Cerah. And while it may seem natural for Cerah's father to step in and start caring for the young orangutan, in the wild, male orangutans play no role in raising their offspring, according to the Denver Zoo. So keepers were pleasantly surprised when Berani decided to take on the role of "Mr. Mom" on his own.

RELATED: Texas Zoo Hand-Rearing 11-Week-Old Giraffe Calf After the Unexpected Death of Baby's Mother

Courtesy Denver Zoo

"For everyone wondering how our little Cerah is doing, our keepers will tell you that we are so fortunate that her dad Berani has stepped up to the plate," the zoo wrote in a recent Facebook post. "In the wild, orangutan males are not involved with their offspring. To see Berani step up as Mr. Mom, is an extremely rare situation—and Cerah couldn't have asked for a better dad."

Courtesy Denver Zoo

"Berani is so attentive and protective of her, seeing to all her needs. He will carry her, comfort her, and even snuggles her when she sleeps," the post, which also included shots of Berani and Cerah bonding, continued.

RELATED: World's Oldest Orangutan Euthanized at Oregon Zoo at Age 61: 'She Inspired Generations'

Courtesy Denver Zoo

The orangutan dad isn't handling the child-rearing alone. Cerah's older sister, 11-year-old Hesty, is also helping, keeping the little primate occupied with plenty of playtime. Hesty is Nias daughter but not Berani's – even so, the newly-formed family is making the arrangement work.

"The three of them are sticking together and moving forward," the zoo wrote of the new family's future.