Blog: Kecil Orangutan

Why Surrogate Moms? Why Maggie?

Overall, orangutans make great moms as they are very nurturing and gentle with their young.  For the first six to eight years, orangutan offspring spend the vast majority of their life very close to their mothers. They nurse from their moms for at least the first three years of their lives until they slowly start to become more independent. This is true for orangutans born both in zoos and in the wild.

In zoos when orangutan moms are not able to care for their young for a variety of reasons, zoo keepers will step in and do everything possible to support mom and infant in hopes that the mom can overcome whatever obstacles she has, so she can care for her infant.

In 1996, Maggie was given a chance to raise an infant in need named Mukah from Lincoln Park Zoo. Much like Kecil, Mukah was born to an orangutan mom who had no interest in caring for her infant. So, Mukah was sent to Brookfield Zoo and was introduced to two other females who had infants of their own. However, none of them accepted him…until it was Maggie’s turn! 

Maggie and Mukah were placed on opposite sides of the same door. The door was opened just enough for Mukah to fit through, but not Maggie. So, she stuck her arm through the opening and waited patiently for Mukah to get enough courage to approach her. All was quiet and peaceful, so the zoo keepers decided to let them be alone for a while. When they returned, Mukah was sitting on Maggie’s lap, and from then on, the two were inseparable for the next six years! Maggie also began producing milk, and Mukah nursed from her just like she was his original mom.

Maggie is calm and laid back. She is also very patient, loves to play, and rarely stirs up trouble. These are some of the qualities that make her an ideal candidate to be a surrogate mom for these young orangutans in need such as Kecil or Mukah.

-The Tropic World Asia Keepers

KLOG entry - August 15, 2014: Kecil climbed up to high shelf by himself. He was content to hang out there for about 10 minutes, but then he began to scream. Maggie rescued him by climbing up and reaching out for him. He calmed as soon as she arrived.

KLOG entry - August 23, 2014: Asked Maggie and Kecil to move from one enclosure to a clean enclosure after cleaning in the morning.  Maggie got close enough to Kecil for him to grab onto her hair and brought him to the door.  She then waited as he went through the door first. Maggie was gently grooming and mouthing Kecil's head in the afternoon.

Posted: 9/24/2014 3:26:57 PM by Filed under: Kecil, Maggic, orangutan

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Kecil Orangutan

Updates on baby orangutan Kecil who arrived at Brookfield Zoo on June 20, 2014 to be introduced to a surrogate mom, Maggie, the zoo’s 53-year-old Bornean orangutan.


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