Orangutan fathers are not frequently involved in raising their offspring. No mammal on earth spends more of its life with its young than a female. At the Denver Zoo, this orangutan raised his two-year-old offspring despite all odds by taking on the role of a mother. After the mother died, the male took charge of raising his children.
“We’re deeply saddened to share that Nias, the matriarch of our Sumatran orangutan family, died unexpectedly last Thursday,” the zoo shared on social media. Nias joined the Denver Zoo at the age of 17 in 2005 and has spent the last 15 years entertaining visitors and working as an advocate for her threatened species.
Her two daughters, Hesty, 10, and Cerah, 2, were frequently seen caring for and playing with her. At this point, we do not know what caused Nias’ death and are awaiting the findings of a necropsy performed by our partners at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Services.
Nias was renowned as the “Queen Bee” of the Great Apes display at the Zoo. Her caretakers knew not to offer a reward to another orangutan unless they intended to give it to Nias as well, and her mate, Berani, always followed her lead. Until Hesty became more independent, she kept a close eye on her, never letting her out of her sight. As Cerah, born in 2018, was added to the family, Nias calmed, and visitors noticed her swinging around on her own, still under mom’s cautious eye.
KIRO7’s Cindy Cossaboon, Primate Keeper Cindy Cossaboon, who has been with Nias since her first day at the Zoo, reported that it was fantastic to witness this huge male with this tiny, little infant. “It’s one of those things where you have this terrible storm, and then you have the rainbow at the end. He is doing a fantastic job. We couldn’t ask for better care for her.”
As a loving father, Nias comforts his daughter whenever she cries, cuddling with her when she goes to sleep or cries at night.
Cossaboon added that not many individuals got to have the kind of bond I have with these animals. Everyone has their personality, story, and incredible experiences and recollections.
Cerah’s zookeepers wish she has a long and healthy life. Her attachment to her father has piqued the public’s interest, and their narrative reminds them of how similar orangutans are to people.
“It’s just heartwarming to be able to see something that can bring us all joy and something to look forward to,” remarked Cossaboon. Please share this touching family story with your friends and family members since it represents love and family.