Luther was born in April 2016 and is Lilly’s first infant. Lilly is a very protective mother: during Luther’s first year of life, Lilly preferred to keep her baby boy hidden from us, which we of course respected. But lately, we are slowly getting to follow them more. Luther is now more than 3 years old and developing very well. He is very playful and his favorite activity seems to be playing with other kids, no matter how old (or young) his playmates are, what they are up to, or what their moms think of it. Luther can make everybody play because he seems to always be able to judge what his playmates might be up for most: he rough and tumble plays with the older kids and joins the younger ones in their mothers’ nests to gently play with them in there. When Luther plays, it is often difficult to see what exactly is going on because he turns into a twirling ball of fur.
As much as Luther enjoys playing with his friends, the most significant person in his life is his mother Lilly. Luther is taken care of very well by his young mother and gets caressed and groomed by her often. Luther loves to cuddle with his mom and seems to enjoy the huge amounts of affection and attention he gets from her. Lilly still likes to keep Luther close, but above all she wants him to be happy. Luther seems to have realized this: when Lilly is on the move it frequently occurs that he lets his mom wait for a long time until he decides to follow her. Interestingly, instead of leaving or grabbing her infant as other mothers often do in such situations, Lilly patiently waits for him. This usually means waiting in the most uncomfortable positions like for example in tree bridges that she holds to make it easier for Luther to cross. Luther seems very aware that he is his mother’s center of attention and we dare to say that he is probably the most spoiled infant at Suaq.
At times, Luther does push his boundaries by for example ignoring Lilly’s throat scrapes (a vocalization with which mothers call their infants) or ignoring her warnings when he is approaching less familiar association partners too closely. Luther seems so interested in other orangutans that he sometimes forgets how to behave appropriately. He has also been seen to violate orangutan behavioral codes by overstaying his welcome in the nests of other mothers or by playing with infants whom he is not supposed to.
Eden is one of the infants that is supposed to be off-limits for Luther. Eden is the infant of Ellie, the life-long foe of his mother Lilly. Their mothers’ mutual dislike stretches back into their infancy when Ellie’s mother Friska had repeatedly chased off Lilly’s mother Lisa. But despite their mother’s opposition, Luther and Eden seemed to have been friends at first sight. Their mutual affection was so strong that their mothers had no other choice but to give in. This doesn’t mean though that Ellie and Lilly started to spend time with each other. Instead, they let their infants play while they each wait at large distances from each other. When Luther was too young to go far from his mom, Eden would slowly approach Lilly to play with Luther. Lilly would make a big nest for herself to rest in and above which the infants were allowed to play safely. These days, Luther and Eden often play while their moms compete in a staring contest some 20 to 30 meters apart.
All in all, Luther is a sociable, playful, cuddly, well taken care of and at times somewhat naughty little boy.