It's a story that dates back to 2009, but perhaps with the growing popularity of Rilakkuma, Japan's famous relaxing bear mascot, it's time to revisit the heartbreakingly adorable story of Otome, a monkey who was rejected by her mother, but adopted a Rilakkuma doll as her surrogate mother.


Source: YouTube

Otome was born and raised at the Ichikawa City Zoo in Chiba prefecture, Japan. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens among captive monkeys, particularly the Japanese macaque, Otome was shunned by her mother and neglected growing up. After she was shunned, zoo staff members were concerned for Otome's well-being so they worked hard to artificially rear her. However, the problem of her growing up unprotected by maternal guidance and care still remained, so they provided her with towels and stuffed animals to hug and cling to. More than any other item provided for her, Otome took a particular liking to her Rilakkuma doll, and formed a bond so strong with it that she clung to it in place of her mother.

Soon enough, Otome and her new surrogate Rilakkuma mother became inseparable, with Otome taking the stuffed mascot with her wherever she went, and even would turn it over on top her, so that she could experience a mother's embrace.


Source: YouTube

The staffers knew that if they let Otome rely on their attempts at rearing for too long, she wouldn't be able to successfully return to the herd of monkeys and reintegrate. So they reintroduced her to the other monkeys while letting her carry on her lovable bond with her Rilakkuma mother, which helped her settle in.

Over the course of year, Otome was able to successfully adjust, and although the warmth and security provided by the Rilakkuma doll shaped her through her loneliest time, with age it became no long needed and it was time for Otome to step forward as her own, independent monkey. After being officially separated, Otome did just that, whereas the surrogate Rilakkuma is now encased in a display at the zoo for all to see, with a sign that reads "I've finished raising her."

Here's a couple videos showing Otome running around with Rilakkuma, as well as the two taking some time out for lunch. While Rilakkuma may seem a bit banged up and filthy, just keep in mind that all that dirt is a badge of love it wears for her monkey daughter.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.