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El Paso zoo brings awareness to orphaned orangutans

Mother's Day at the Zoo

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Zoo is celebrating moms, both human and primate, to bring a serious issue to light. It's called the M.O.M Campaign, which stands for Missing Orangutan Mothers. 

"A lot of orangutan babies are losing their moms to the palm oil industry," Zoo Education Specialist Cheyenne Garcia said. "Whether they're losing their habitat and the mom's just aren't making it or the moms are actively being killed by the plantation owners." 

In return, hundreds of orphaned baby orangutans are cared for in rescue centers in Sumatra and Borneo. But Garcia says the relationship between mom and baby, is critical.  

"They depend on their mom just the way we do," she said. "They're nursing from their moms. Even at two-years-old, we see Khaleesi is still nursing from her mom."

Garcia is referring to the zoo's baby orangutan, Khaleesi and her mother, Ibu. Khaleesi is only 10 pounds, but will one day be as big as her mom, nearly 100 pounds. 

Sunday, El Pasoans gathered around the exhibit to observe the primates. For many, it was a fun event for moms and their children. 

"We're just hanging out, doing mom and kid time," Alana Heitzer said, while holding her two-year-old son Tommy. 

But the event was also educational. 

If you want to visit baby Khaleesi and her mother, their exhibit is open at the El Paso Zoo every Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  


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