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Monkey World News

All I want is a Mummy: Abandoned at birth, the baby orangutan hoping to find family in UK Read more

  • Six-week-old orangutan Rieke rejected by her 11-year-old mother at birth
  • She has been cared for by humans who change her nappies and feed her
  • Keepers at Monkey World rotate shifts so she doesn't get attached to one
  • She will soon be introduced to adult orangutans so she can find a family
  • Experts believe the highly intelligent animals could go extinct in 25 years

27 February 2015

She can't sit up on her own and she certainly isn't swinging fearlessly through the trees just yet.

But right now the only thing Rieke the baby orangutan wants is a mum.

She was abandoned at birth six weeks ago when her 11-year-old mother rejected her.

Now, like any young orphan, she is looking for a grown-up to adopt her. In different circumstances, Rieke would be spending her formative months clinging to her mother and learning the ways of an orangutan tribe.

Abandoned: Six-week-old Rieke (pictured) was rejected by her 11-year-old mother at birth

New hope: She is now being transferred to Monkey World in Dorset that houses a tribe of 18 orangutans - one of which could become Rieke's new mother

Instead, she has spent all her short life being cared for by humans.

Like any baby, she needs her nappy changing, suckles from a bottle and makes squeaking noises when she wants attention.

She even has a snuggly blanket to comfort her. But it's no substitute for a mother's love.

Four keepers at Monkey World in Dorset take it in turns to look after her so she doesn't get attached to just one of them.

Soon, however, she will be introduced to adult orangutans in the hope that she can find a family – and someone to ape.

Rieke was moved on Monday to the sanctuary from Berlin Zoo, where she was born on January 12 weighing just 4lb. She slept for most of the 17-hour journey, a feat few children could manage without whining: 'Are we nearly there yet?'


Rehomed: Rieke was moved to Monkey World from Berlin Zoo where she was born on January 12 weighing just 4lb

Endangered: Orangutans are considered the most intelligent of all ape species but some experts believe they could go extinct within 25 years


The zoo wanted her to grow up in as natural an environment as possible – and Monkey World already cares for a tribe of 18 orangutans, one of which, it is hoped, will become her stepmother.

Crucially, there is also another orangutan orphan there to play with – Bulu Mata, a five-month-old whose mother died after giving birth to him at a zoo in Budapest.

Yesterday the pair were said to be bonding perfectly. Having a big brother to show her the ropes will be a huge advantage in Rieke's development.

Orangutans are the most intelligent great apes and are critically endangered in their Indonesian homelands – some experts believe the species could be extinct within 25 years. Monkey World, set up in 1987, currently has 250 rescued primates from 20 species... plus one little girl that just wants to be loved.

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