Orangutan at Virginia zoo finally learns how to nurse her new baby - with the help of her keeper
An orangutan has finally learned how to nurse her baby after a breastfeeding zookeeper showed her how it was done.
Zoe, a long-term resident at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Moseley, Virginia, had not learned the skill from her own mother after being orphaned at just nine months old.
Her firstborn had to be hand-raised and, after the birth of her second in December, the mom-of-two was still struggling to get to grips with the process.
But Zookeeper Whitlee Turner, who was breastfeeding her own new arrival, decided to step in and gave Zoe a live demonstration - and less than 24 hours later the orangutan was doing it for herself.
Whitlee was asked to nurse baby son Caleb in front of Zoe's enclosure in a bid to encourage the orangutan to follow suit.
Speaking about the experience, Whitlee said: 'I just had my breastfeeding bra on, and I was able to show [Zoe] everything with zero modesty.
'I wanted her to be able to see the whole process because orangutans don't wear shirts.
'I wanted her to be able to see my breasts and see Caleb and be able to see him rooting and looking for it and the latch.
With my bra down, I was very exaggerated when I put him on so that [Zoe] could see that the baby goes here.
'The whole time I was talking to her and pointing at her, pointing at the baby, pointing at her breasts.
'And when Caleb was latched I was showing it to her, making sure that she saw the important part.
'The whole time she just kept watching me curiously. She didn't immediately breastfeed her baby, but she was definitely watching the whole time.'
And less than a day later Zoe had successfully started breastfeeding - much to the delight of her keepers.
The zoo has said that Zoe and her baby, who has yet to be given a name, are both are healthy and bonding well.
Orangutans are currently classed as a critically endangered species.