‘She looked directly into my eyes and placed her hand up as if to touch my son. This beautiful creature had me in tears.’: Mom shares ‘breathtaking’ moment zoo orangutan ‘supports, protects’ her while breastfeeding son

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“Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places. It was one of the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears.

I visited the Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna whilst on a mini break with my partner and son. We nipped in to see the orangutans at the end of our day, who were happily playing in the enclosure. I went to the window for a closer look and sat down by the window so my baby could see the orangutan who was sitting roughly 5-6 feet 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.

Courtesy of Gemma Copeland

Moments later, my son made it clear to me he wanted feeding. As it was quiet, I fed him whilst I sat there. The way the orangutan reacted took my breath away. She kept looking at me, then my son, then back again. She sat with me for approximately half an hour and kept stroking the glass. She lay down next to me as if to support and protect me.

Courtesy of Gemma Copeland

Very quickly a crowd of people surrounded me and my little boy. Much to my amazement, the crowd was so respectful. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced in all my time breastfeeding. At first, it was just a couple of adults, followed by a lovely man in dreadlocks with two small children who very politely sat down beside us and just watched on in silence. Then an older lady with a small child, and although I didn’t understand the language with being on vacation, I understood that she was merely explaining to the little girl what I was doing with my boob in my child’s mouth, that it was the way he drank his milk. This melted my heart as I hear so many horror stories of women getting negative comments and remarks over feeding in public.

I believe it was fate or spiritually guided that I was there that day as our trip to Vienna was a last-minute, random decision. I just found the cheapest flight and accommodation I could to anywhere to escape the madness of the holidays and start my son’s traveling adventures early, as travelling is a huge passion of mine and I didnt want it to end it just because of having a child.

I knew nothing about Vienna, so little that I actually thought we were going to Italy until I booked the accommodation. (Not sure if that was baby brain or a sheer blonde moment, but either way I had to figure out what we would do for 4 days.) Google had the answers, one of which being Schönbrunn zoo, the oldest zoo in the world. This excited me massively as I’m a huge animal lover.

We waited until our final full day to visit the zoo, we spent the full day walking around and almost missed the orangutans, so we went back to find them before we left. We went into the enclosure but they were too far away to see properly so we went to leave. 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. Then, the magic of that moment happened.

Courtesy of Gemma Copeland

I wouldnt say I was a religious person, but I honestly believe something out there made me visit the zoo so I could meet this beautiful creature. And now, she’ll forever hold a special place in my heart. I’ll never let my little boy forget her.

I had to share this because my mind was blown. We may be a species apart, but breastfeeding connected us today in a once in a lifetime moment that will stay with me forever. I’m also incredibly lucky that my partner caught all of this. It was honestly the best moment of my life, after giving birth.”

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Courtesy of Gemma Copeland

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Gemma Copeland. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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