Nursing mom Gemma Copeland has always loved traveling and even with a child, she wanted to continue exploring the world.
Besides, she also relished the opportunity to let her son see the world from an early age.
That’s why Gemma and her partner flew to Vienna, Austria, with their child on a trip that turned out to be an eye-opening journey for her thanks to an orangutan in a zoo.
As they were touring the Schönbrunn Zoo, Gemma’s baby got hungry. So she stopped by an orangutan enclosure and started to breastfeed her child in full view of the orangutans. And that’s when the magic took place.
A female orangutan who was about 5 or 6 feet away approached them until it was at the window. It looked directly into Gemma’s eyes and then reached out as if wanting to touch the nursing baby. Gemma was blown away by the tender attitude the orangutan was displaying towards an infant from another species.
“My breastfeeding experiences in public have been diverse, some people looking curious, others content and the odd negative one,” Gemma said. “Once I was asked to cover my little boy whilst he was feeding to which I responded by handing over a spare muslin and asking them if they minded covering their shallow-minded selves. This quickly ended the situation leaving me to enjoy my coffee and bonding with my son.”
Fortunately, the people around Gemma that time were more open-minded and didn’t find a breastfeeding mother inside Schönbrunn Zoo to be an unusual sight.
The zoo was founded in 1752 is the world’s oldest continuously operating zoo. The scientifically administered establishment prides itself on being a champion for species conservation and nature conservation in general. The 18th-century menagerie-buildings still carry the flavor of the baroque era while being reinforced by elements of modern architecture.
“I would like to think Vienna chose us as opposed to us choosing Vienna,” Gemma said. “When searching for our trip, I had no destination in mind but it proved to be a life-changing choice as little did we know what was about to happen.”
Gemma wanted to make sure that people become aware of this extraordinary encounter and her story has touched more than 5 million people. She wanted to convert that sense of wonder into something tangible and Gemma finally decided to give back to these beautiful creatures.
“I’ve been given an opportunity and a platform to attempt to make a change [so] I’d like to raise money for the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of the orangutan,” the animal lover said.
“For all our modern advances, this moment proved to me that although species apart, we’re just the same,” the mother said. “We are all equal. The nurturing care of our children is paramount, regardless of race, gender, and even species. At that moment, we were one.”