Baby Orangutan in Houston Cared for by 50 Surrogate Human Moms

VIDEO: Baby Orangutan Has 50 Surrogate Mothers

A baby orangutan in Houston's zoo has been rejected by her mother, but 50 surrogate human moms have stepped in to fill the void.

The bright-eyed baby, who hasn't yet been given a name, was born to an orangutan named Kelly a bit more than a month ago, but the mother stopped feeding and caring for the baby shortly thereafter.

Zoo staffers stepped in to give the baby round-the-clock care.

Watch "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline" for more on this story tonight on ABC.

Video released by the zoo shows a team of experienced caregivers feeding the baby, snuggling her in blankets and providing training in vital development skills such as clinging.

In the wild, a baby orangutan would spend its first year of life clinging to its mother. In place of a mom, the Houston baby hangs on to a surrogate orangutan doll with bright orange fur.

"We are finding that, on the little doll, she is clinging really well, and it is super important that she learn how to cling," said Lynn Killam, supervisor of primates at the Houston Zoo, in a video released by the zoo. "A mom orangutan wouldn't necessarily hold her baby. The baby would be clinging to her."

The orangutan baby now is drinking bottled infant formula -- the same used for human babies -- and in a month's time she has already gained two pounds.

Zoo Officials Hope Baby Eventually Will Get an Orangutan Mother

Zoo officials say that the baby is healthy, but they're not ready to show her to the public.

Now, they're focused on introducing her to other orangutans, hoping that one of the females might eventually take her on, possibly even the baby's original mother.

"We're doing a lot of visual introductions with all of the orangutans," said Killam. "We're hoping that in the next few months, we will get her back in with an orangutan."

Another female orangutan at the zoo has performed as a surrogate mom before, raising three babies.

Click here to return to the "World News" page.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, their daughter North West and Delphine Arnault attend the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015, Sept. 28, 2014 in Paris.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images