A new mum was moved to tears by an emotional encounter with a female orangutan, when she needed to breastfeed her new baby while wandering an Austrian zoo.
Gemma Copeland, 30, was visiting Schoenbrunn Zoo while on holiday in Vienna, Austria, with her 15-week-old son Jasper and partner Shane, 31, last Thursday.
The trio were close to the orangutan enclosure when Gemma realised Jasper needed to feed.
As she sat down against the glass to feed her son, a female orangutan began watching her intently and kissing and putting her hand on the glass.
Shane managed to capture the emotional 30-minute long encounter on his phone.
Mum-of-one Gemma, a nail technician from Stockport, Gtr Manchester but now living in Cheshire, said she was left in tears by the incredible display of animal compassion.
“I’m mad on travelling and animals and when I booked a cheap flight to Vienna I noticed that they have the oldest zoo in the world.
“During our visit, I realised we nearly missed out on seeing the orangutans so we turned around and went back. We couldn’t see them in their enclosure so we just said ‘let’s go home’, but I realised that they had come back out when we turned away so we went to go and look.
“I went to the window for a closer look and sat down by the window so my son could see the orangutan who was roughly five or six foot away – I didn’t want to frighten her so I made myself smaller so I could take a picture. 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. My son wanted feeding and 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 and lay down next to me as if to support and protect me.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked and got quite a crowd of people turning up to see what was going on – people were sat watching quietly and respectfully. It was really lovely and I didn’t want to leave – it felt incredible and I was crying so much because I couldn’t take it in.”
After Gemma shared the heart-warming moment on Facebook for her friends and family to see, it went viral – racking up millions of views, likes and shares.
The new mum has since discovered the orangutan, Sol, had previously given birth to a stillborn infant, making the experience even more emotional.
“I felt heartbroken when I left the zoo, it’s been really overwhelming that the post has gone viral – my grandma is really proud and hasn’t stopped crying about it.
“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.”