The bond between an orangutan mother and her young in one of the strongest in nature!

These red-headed great apes are some of our closest relatives, sharing around 97 per cent of their DNA with humans.

And while there are still a bunch of things that set us apart you might be surprised to hear how similar our parenting styles can be!

Like humans, baby orangutans are dependent on mum during their younger years and stick close by as they learn how to survive, hit milestones and are taught the important social skills they need for the orangutan world.

Perth Zoo’s Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, said: “Much like humans, every orangutan mum has their own style of parenting.

“Orangutans can be very playful mothers, but it’s also funny to see how strict they can be!

“They are very similar to humans in how they set boundaries, making sure their little ones learn not to snatch and how to forage.

“But I have often spied orangutan mothers like Sekara here at the Zoo playing with her babies and quietly watching them in awe.


And like a human mum, everything an orangutan does is to keep her baby safe.

She’ll teach her babies how to survive and find food, and she even builds a new nest every single day. The average orangutan mother will build up to 30,000 homes in her lifetime – talk about a Super-Mum!

“It’s really incredible to see how selfless an orangutan mum can be when it comes to caring for her young,” Holly said.

“Through my work overseas in Sumatra and Borneo, I’ve experienced an orangutan mother in a rescue centre who was extremely malnourished, but her 18-month-old baby was in good condition, which is a testament to how they will do whatever it takes to protect their little ones.”

Having a mother is super important for a baby orangutan. But sadly some orangutans in the wild are left without their mums. That’s why we support Jungle School through our partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s conservation program in Sumatra.

Jungle School is a sanctuary that helps ex-pet trade and orphaned orangutans to learn the lessons that their mums would have taught them, before joining their fellow great ape cousins in the protected Sumatran rainforest of Bukit Tigapuluh.

With the help of their human carers and often a buddy orangutan, Jungle School ‘students’ learn to find food and water, stay in the trees where it’s safe, navigation, how to get along with others, and how to make a nest to sleep in.

Once the graduates are released into their new home in Sumatra, they are tracked by wildlife biologists until we are absolutely certain they have what they need to survive in the rainforest.

And the best part? Many of these orangutans have gone on to have babies of their own – creating a new generation of Sumatran Orangutans growing up in the wild, and mums raising their little ones in the home where their heart is!

“It is so incredible that despite the hardship many of them have faced and despite not having a mum of their own to teach them, through Jungle School these orangutans are able to go on and be great mums,” Holly said.

“It shows us their resilience and caring nature, it’s incredible that we can support a program that provides them with the lessons that their mums should have had the chance to teach them.”

Whether in the human world or the orangutan world, mums are amazing!

Tell your mum she’s the ape-solute best by sending her a Wild Wishes card or make a donation to help us support orphaned orangutans in the wild.