Animals

By Harriet Whitehead


A loving orangutan has been snapped sharing an affectionate kiss with her daughter in an image which shows the close bond between the pair.

The tender moment when Bornean Orangutan Mali kissed her five-year-old daughter Tatau at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon was captured by a regular zoo visitor.

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The pictures show 22-year-old Mali breastfeeding Tatau and sharing food with her while Tatau clings on to her mother while they share what looks like a kiss.

Zoo experts say the bond between orangutans is very strong and Tatau will not be weaned until she’s eight years old.

The zoo visitor said: “It was very quiet, so I tried not to disturb them. They have a very strong bond.

“The first photo shows Tatau breastfeeding. Then they passed something mouth to mouth, which makes it look like they are kissing.”

Paignton Zoo spokesman Phil Knowling said: “Orangutans are the second largest of the apes and are among the slowest breeding of all primates, giving the mother more time to nurse each youngster.

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“Female Bornean orangutans give birth every eight years or so.

“While Tatau can now move through the trees on their island home without Mali’s help, she will not be weaned until she is around eight.”

Mali and Tatau share their home with adult females Gambira and Chinta, Chinta’s daughter Natalia and adult male Wousan who came to Devon last year from Cologne Zoo in Germany.

Mali arrived at Paignton Zoo from Munster Zoo, in Germany, in November 2007.

Phil said orangutans are threatened by hunting, the pet trade and habitat destruction.

Phil said: “The Bornean orangutan is classed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

“Around 97 per cent of their DNA is the same as ours.

“Not surprisingly they are very intelligent and exhibit other human traits, such as tool use and reasoning.

“They usually have a lifespan of between 34 to 45 years in the wild, but will often live much longer in zoos.”