Baby orangutan Kecil, mom Maggie bonding at Illinois zoo

BROOKFIELD, Ill. -- When baby orangutan Kecil wants a bottle, his adopted mom Maggie helps the 10-month-old find his way to the staff at Brookfield Zoo.

It's just one of the ways the two are bonding, according to zoo officials. Kecil also plays with mom, samples her food and sleeps with her at night.

All are good signs that Maggie, 53, and baby are developing more of a bond off exhibit. At 13.5 pounds, Kecil is becoming more sure-footed and agile, officials said. He's learning to climb and improve his coordination.

Kecil arrived at Brookfield Zoo in July after his biological mother at Toledo Zoo showed little interest in him after a painful delivery. At 4-months, he was taken to Milwaukee County Zoo, but he did not bond as well as hoped for with that possible surrogate.

"So that's when Maggie became a candidate to be a surrogate and Kecil came down here in June of this year," Craig Demitros, associate curator of primates, said. "He was introduced the very first day to Maggie and has been with her ever since."

He was 6-months old at introduction, and the bond was almost immediate.

"By day 11 Maggie would not let us take him away anymore to get weighed. She said, 'No, he's my baby and I'm not letting you take him,'" Nava Greenblatt, lead keeper at Tropic World Asia, said.

"There is definitely a connection and a bonding going on here," Demitros said. "It could be motherly love."

Kecil and Maggie will stay behind-the-scenes at Brookfield Zoo for several more months.

"And then for the next several years we hope we have a real nice exhibit with Maggie and Kecil on exhibit. Once he matures he will move onto another institution to be part of an orangutan breeding program," Demitros said.

While Maggie and Kecil remain off-exhibit, Brookfield Zoo is updating a keeper journal on the pair at

Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.