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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
The mother who suckles pet monkey
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Tripura

Namita Das has two grown up children, but she continues to suckle her pet monkey.

India woman suckling pet monkey
Mrs Das describes Buru as her "son" (Pics: Bapi Roy Chowdhury)

Namita, a middle-aged woman who lives in India's north-eastern Tripura state and is a government worker, describes Buru, the pet monkey, as her third child.

"Yes, I breastfeed him. He is my son," says Namita, caressing the monkey.

More than four years ago, her woodcutter husband found a dying baby monkey under a tree after a fierce storm.

He brought the animal home in Chandrapur village on the outskirts of the Udaipur town in Tripura's South District.

"The monkey fell ill after the storm , in which it lost its parents. I decided to bring him up with my daughters," says Namita.

Sibling

Her daughters, Dipti and Tripiti, treat the monkey as a sibling.

"We tie rakhi (a sacred thread) on Buru's wrists during the Indian festival when sisters wish their brothers well," says Dipti, the elder of the two.

I did not have a son. God finally gave one
Namita and her husband manage to earn around $100 together every month and barely manage to make ends meet.

But that does not deter Namita from spending to bring up the mon