Breastfeeding is great, and women who breastfeed should be allowed to feed their babies without fear of criticism or harassment. Often, however, a woman can’t breastfeed in peace without getting a bunch of unwanted attention. At the Melbourne Zoo this weekend, however, one mother popped off to feed her hungry newborn and attracted some amazing attention, because she caught the eye of a mother orangutan who realized exactly what was going on and came over to watch.
Elizabeth Hunt Burrett was at the zoo over the weekend with her three-year-old and her 13-week-old. At one point during the day the baby got hungry, as babies are wont to do every couple hours or so, so Burrett ducked off to the side where there was an out-of-the-way bench in a corner where she could feed comfortably. That bench happened to be right next to one of the viewing windows in the orangutan enclosure, though, and a young orangutan saw Burrett feeding her baby.
“I went around the corner to be a bit private and I was breastfeeding and this orangutan locked eyes with me and came over to check out what was going on,” Burrett told ABC News.
Then an older mother orangutan came and shooed the younger orangutan away and sat down by Burrett to watch. Burrett says the mother orangutan seemed to give her a little nod.
“It started off with just one, then another one came over who seemed to be a bit older and shooed this one off for a little while. And she [the older one] came over and gave me a bit of a nod,” Burrett said.
I think a lot of us who have nursed babies in public know that nod. You’re sitting at a Starbucks or something, nursing a tiny newborn and worrying that some person is going to come flip a table because they would be able to see your nipple if your baby were invisible, and then a woman with a slightly older baby comes rolling through and catches sight of you and gives a little nod and smile like, “Yo. I’ve been there. It’s all good. This tiny movement of my head is just a little gesture of solidarity before I go back to ordering my coffee.”
I’m loathe to describe any moment as “magical,” but this was really pretty special, especially since nobody ruined it by wigging out and ranting that breastfeeding was gross and Burrett needed to cover up. This photo is pretty amazing, and just further proof that breastfeeding is neither disgusting, nor inappropriate, nor sexual.