Jade Small
Jade Small
May 5, 2024 ·  5 min read

Breastfeeding mom’s touching encounter with an orangutan has people swooning—and debating

If you were a breastfeeding mom, you would probably know all about the struggle of breastfeeding in public. Mothers are constantly under scrutiny for everything they do, especially when feeding their babies by breast. Constantly told how breast milk is best for our children, yet, shunned for feeding them when in public. When does it ever end?

It was no different for this breastfeeding mom. Gemma Copeland is 30 years old and a proud mother to Jasper, her son.[1]

My breastfeeding experiences in public have been diverse, some people looking curious, others content and the odd negative one. 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.

Gemma Copeland

Mom has a touching experience at a zoo

Gemma and her partner, Shane, were on holiday in Vienna, Austria. They took their son to the Schoenbrunn Zoo. This is where Gemma had a profound and beautiful experience like no other.

Obviously, realizing Jasper was hungry, Gemma decided to sit down on the ground by the orangutan enclosure. So, she sat close to the glass and began breastfeeding her son.

Image Credit: Gemma Copeland | Facebook

Certainly, the breastfeeding mom was left in awe as a female orangutan came closer toward her. Basically, she watched Gemma as she fed Jasper. She kissed and put her hand against the glass as if to touch Gemma and her son. This lasted for about 30minutes. Shane, Gemma’s partner, recorded the entire experience with his cellphone.[2]

Gemma says she feels like their holiday destination was chosen for them. [1]

I would like to think Vienna chose us as opposed to us choosing Vienna. 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 Copeland
Image Credit: Gemma Copeland | Facebook

Read: Why Being a Single Mom is Something to Be Thankful For

Here’s the breastfeeding moms post that went viral

Along with her post about what happened in Vienna, she wrote;[3]

“Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places. It was one of the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears.

I visited the Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna whilst on a mini-break with my partner and son. We nipped in to see the orangutans at the end of our day, who was happily playing in the enclosure. I went to the window for a closer look and sat down by the window so my baby could see the orangutan who was sitting roughly 5-6 feet away. She then got up, carried a piece of cloth to the window, and sat down with me. She looked directly into my eyes then placed her hand up as if to touch my son. I was in awe of this beautiful creature already.

Moments later, my son made it clear to me he wanted to feed. As it was quiet, I fed him whilst I sat there. The way the orangutan reacted took my breath away. She kept looking at me, then my son, then back again. She sat with me for approximately half an hour and kept stroking the glass. She lay down next to me as if to support and protect me.”

Gemma Copeland

She felt like it was fate that brought her to Vienna.

Very quickly a crowd of people surrounded me and my little boy. Much to my amazement, the crowd was so respectful. Like nothing, I’ve ever experienced in all my time breastfeeding. At first, it was just a couple of adults, followed by a lovely man in dreadlocks with two small children who very politely sat down beside us and just watched on in silence. Then an older lady with a small child, and although I didn’t understand the language with being on vacation, I understood that she was merely explaining to the little girl what I was doing with my boob in my child’s mouth, that it was the way he drank his milk. This melted my heart as I hear so many horror stories of women getting negative comments and remarks over feeding in public.

I believe it was fate or spiritually guided that I was there that day as our trip to Vienna was a last-minute, random decision. I just found the cheapest flight and accommodation I could to anywhere to escape the madness of the holidays and start my son’s traveling adventures early, as traveling is a huge passion of mine and I didn’t want it to end just because of having a child.”

Gemma Copeland

The experience left Gemma feeling incredibly humbled.

“I knew nothing about Vienna, so little that I actually thought we were going to Italy until I booked the accommodation. (Not sure if that was baby brain or a sheer blonde moment, but either way I had to figure out what we would do for 4 days.) Google had the answers, one of which being Schönbrunn zoo, the oldest zoo in the world. This excited me massively as I’m a huge animal lover.

We waited until our final full day to visit the zoo, we spent the full day walking around and almost missed the orangutans, so we went back to find them before we left. We went into the enclosure but they were too far away to see properly so we went to leave. It was only when I turned to put our little boy in his pram that I noticed the orangutan had come closer, so I asked my partner if we could go back and see her. Then, the magic of that moment happened.

So I wouldn’t say I was a religious person, but I honestly believe something out there made me visit the zoo so I could meet this beautiful creature. And now, she’ll forever hold a special place in my heart. I’ll never let my little boy forget her.

I had to share this because my mind was blown. We may be a species apart, but breastfeeding connected us today in a once-in-a-lifetime moment that will stay with me forever. I’m also incredibly lucky that my partner caught all of this. It was honestly the best moment of my life, after giving birth.”

Gemma Copeland

Watch the video of the heartfelt moment between breastfeeding mom and orangutan below

Keep Reading: Mom Shamed Online For Breastfeeding Her Four-Year-Old Son


  1. Breastfeeding Mom’s Emotional Encounter With Orangutan At The Oldest Zoo In The World Goes Viral.” Bored Panda. Rokas Laurinavičius and Mindaugas Balčiauskas. March 2020.
  2. Incredible moment protective orangutan who suffered a stillbirth watches over mother…”Daily Mail.  LEIGH MCMANUS. January 2020.
  3. She looked directly into my eyes and placed her hand up as if to touch my son…” Love What Matters. Sophia San Filippo