Fascinated Orangutan Carefully Studies Burn Victim at the Zoo
It’s been well established that apes are extremely intelligent creatures, and like most animals, are more than capable of experiencing emotions just like us. Communication with humans should come as no surprise.
It’s the manner of communication that can sometimes catch us off guard. Darci Miller, a burn survivor, was visiting the Indianapolis Zoo with her fiancé a few days after treatment at a local hospital. Parts of her face and body were bandaged, which caught the attention of a curious animal.
Rocky, a 12-year-old orangutan that lives at the zoo, is seen in this clip shared by Inside Edition. He is staring intently at the woman’s bandages. He’s totally engrossed in what’s going with her and can’t stop pointing. He wants her to show him!
In 2015, Darci was injured while trying to burn a pile of trash in her yard. She was burned severely, with many of the wounds concentrated on her chest, arms, and face. During the past two years, she’s received multiple surgeries and continues to receive treatment for her burns and scars.
Her zoo visit was the first in a very long time and this was her first time meeting Rocky. Her fiancé filmed the amazing encounter and the two were floored by Rocky’s reaction. They can’t believe it. Watch closely as he examines Darci’s neck. He is genuinely interested and seems to be concerned, too!
Darci speaks about how the interaction brightened her day, as she was recovering from her twelfth surgery. She says she would love to give him a hug. Us too! Unsurprisingly, Rocky and his orangutan brethren are known for showing empathy to others. But Rocky is also a wonder in his own right.
He’s made the media rounds before as a study subject in voice communication. A researcher studied his ability to copy sounds made by a human voice, and demonstrated that Rocky was capable of learning hundreds of new sounds as well as changing his tone and inflections. Essentially, he could control his voice the same way we humans do during conversations.
To scientists, this could mean a breakthrough in understanding certain aspects of the history of human communication. Rocky was the rock star of that study, but he’s also a former entertainer. As a kid, he worked in commercials and even did a photoshoot with pop star Fergie.
Zookeepers weren’t shocked by Rocky’s response to Darci, as he has a reputation around the place as being extremely inquisitive. Do you know many 12-year-olds who aren’t trying to understand what’s going on around them? Watch the video to hear what an orangutan expert has to say about Rocky and his behavior towards Darci.
Darci gets to count this unique experience as a bright moment while she continues her journey towards healing. It’s unforgettable! Should her and Rocky’s paths cross again, we wouldn’t be surprised if he remembers her.
What do you think about Darci’s encounter with Rocky? Have you had a similar experience with an ape or different animal?