Melbourne mum’s ‘amazing’ breastfeeding nod from curious orangutan

A Melbourne mum has shared the incredible moment that a fellow mum – an orangutan – decided to quietly observe her breastfeeding her son. After a difficult breastfeeding journey, Elizabeth Hunt Burrett says the stirring encounter had a profound impact. 

The mum of two says while celebrating her daughter’s third birthday at Melbourne Zoo on Sunday, she stole a quiet moment at the orangutan enclosure, to breastfeed her 13-week-old son, Eli. It was then that she roused the curiosity of two of the primates.

“At first the young female orangutan was watching me intently through the glass, the older female then came and shooed her away and began watching herself, she gave me a nod then went on her way,” Elizabeth tells Babyology. “The younger female then returned and sat right against the glass staring right at me, she stayed and watched the rest of the feed.”

orangutan breastfeeding1

Elizabeth explains that, incredibly, one of the orangutans had displayed behaviour similar to a breastfeeding mother covering up in public.

“I felt like they agreed with what I was doing. Another woman there explained that when she had watched one of the mother orangutans feed its baby it had climbed to the top of the tree and covered up with a hessian blanket (perhaps a learned habit from watching visitors covering up), that made me sad, but I hoped that seeing me made her feel ok about it.”

The 10 minute interaction soon drew a crowd of Melbourne Zoo visitors, with Elizabeth saying lightheartedly, “I felt like I was on exhibit”.

Elizabeth explains that she’s had difficulty breastfeeding, and has taken her visit from the two orangutan mums as a sign.

“It’s strange but I felt like she was proud of me, it was quite emotional actually.

“Despite my best intentions I was unable to breastfeed my daughter Chloe due to the pain and physical damage it caused.

“With Eli I was determined to breastfeed, I had the same initial problems that I had with Chloe including mastitis and thought again that my breast feeding journey was over, but this time sought help from a private lactation consultant. I was diagnosed with nipple vasospasm and after six weeks and a course of medication I was able to breastfeed normally without pain or discomfort, which I didn’t think was possible. It was extremely hard work but it was worth it, I feel very lucky and fortunate to have the support of my amazing husband Josh,” Elizabeth says.

Her mum snapped a beautiful picture as Elizabeth and the orangutan locked eyes, the special moment prompting her to share the story on Facebook.

Just wanted to share with you all this amazing breast feeding experience. While celebrating my daughters 3rd birthday…

Posted by Elizabeth Hunt Burrett on Monday, 8 February 2016

It seems these beautiful primates have an affinity for mums! Have a look at the video we’ve previously shared, of an orangutan kissing a pregnant woman’s belly.

(Images via Elizabeth Hunt Burrett Facebook)

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