20 October 2010

Life is a barrel of fun for our orangutans in Ketapang

Volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Baby orangutans at play

Baby School

Every now and again we put wood chips in rubber barrels as a type of sensory enrichment for the baby school orangutans. Food based enrichment is the easiest to make since it isn’t a challenge to interest an orangutan in a novel object with a tasty treat hidden inside, but we want to encourage them to explore and learn about new objects even if they aren’t full of yummy foods.

Melky covered in wood chipsLast week, Monti and Sindi put on quite a show wrestling and hurling handfuls of wood chips all over the place.

Melky particularly made me laugh because he kept leaning his head back and dropping handfuls all over himself. What a delightful mess indeed! All of the orangutans had at least a few chips stuck on them by the time everyone took a rest in one of the elevated mesh nests. Good times.

Emergency Orangutan Centre

We also provided some resourceful enrichment last week at the emergency centre where the adult orangutans live.

JoJo and Jingo share a coconutAfter a long afternoon of moving animals between enclosures so that staff could go inside to rearrange their hammocks and swinging ropes, everyone (orangutan and human alike) earned a coconut.

Orangutan John was so excited he hardly knew what to do with himself, running and jumping about. After John had finished eating most of his coconut, I caught him wearing a piece of the shell as a hat. He is such a character.

JoJo opened up a coconut and held it above his head to drink some of the milk, but two streams of milk came rushing out. Jingo hurried over to drink from the other stream, and the two boys enjoyed their refreshing snack together!

18 October 2010

Mona is a real madam and John loses a tug of war

Volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Mona, Huta and NickyOn Sunday we gave all the adult orangutans a few long pieces of sugar cane as part of their enrichment. They all chewed their tebu (Indonesian for sugar cane) in their favorite private places to enjoy a tasty treat, and inevitably a few pieces fell to the ground out of reach. I saw Mona struggling to reach a piece that had fallen, and her fingertips were just barely tapping the top in frustration. She had a stick in the other hand that she used to try to pry it up, but after watching her struggle for a minute or so I decided to come over and help. I bent down, picked up the tebu, and placed it in her hand but she immediately rejected it and threw it back on the ground!

I thought maybe this was somehow an accident so reached down again and brought it up to her more directly. Without hesitation she slapped it out of my hand so sharply that it almost hit me on the head!

Mona is very clear in her communication of, “No, I would not like your help thank you very much!” I decided not to take it personally, particularly as I see her behave the same way with her buddies Huta and Nicky. I recently set up a long PVC tube with holes in it that are just too small to fit fingers through, and I put tasty foods inside like mini bananas and cucumber chunks. Mona is always the first in her group to try to solve the puzzle of ‘how to get to the food’ with new enrichment items, and when Huta and Nicky came to help, she batted their arms away in an, “I’ve got this one,” sort of manner. Mona was right too, because she was the only one who cottoned on to the fact that you have to use a tool like a stick or piece of wire (that she had stolen from me earlier in the day) to push the food to the open sides of the tube. Nicky kept trying to use her tongue to push the food, and Huta for some reason kept trying to push a burlap sack through the holes. Needless to say, Mona figured it out first, and snatched a couple of the bananas. I certainly wouldn’t call Mona a bully though, since after she got her reward she left the device to enjoy her food in her favorite hammock. Nicky and Huta enjoyed the rest of the fruit and veggies having learned how to solve the puzzle by watching her. I’d say they have a fair system for sharing indeed!

Tug of war

A couple of times a week I like to set up a strong rope in between the adult orangutan enclosures to create a “tug of war” game. The orangutans seem to enjoy this game, and I always end up laughing at their differing strategies. Orangutan John is almost always a contender since his enclosure is adjacent to all the others. John is younger than the others, but he puts up a good fight.

John playing tug of war with JoJo and JingoThe other day I gave one end of the rope to John, and the other to Jingo and Jojo. John playfully began tugging his end from Jojo, but Jojo only had to step on his end to keep it from flying away, since he probably has more strength in one leg than John has in his entire body! Jingo was chewing on the excess rope inside his and Jojo’s enclosure, but it didn’t matter since Jojo’s grip was going nowhere.

I decided to join “Team John” by grabbing the rope and helping him tug, and Jojo immediately shot me a look of betrayal which said, “How dare you take sides with that scrawny child!”

John and I tugged and tugged, but the rope barely moved. I felt something whipping me on the side, and when I looked over John was keeping the rope steady with one arm and flinging the excess rope at me with the other! He was probably just using the opportunity to get more attention, but nonetheless I decided to withdraw and let the boys duel it out. Within 5 or 10 minutes it was all over, with Jojo and Jingo coming out victorious. Some day we’ll have to set up an official bracket with prizes, and maybe a bundle of bananas tied to the middle of the rope as an extra incentive!

6 October 2010

The rescued orangutans are full of mischief and fun

New volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Mona, Huta and NickyMona
Mona is both the most gentle and most destructive adult orangutan at our centre in Ketapang. She is always gentle with humans and other orangutans, but the minute she gets her hands on a new enrichment item, destruction is her middle name. She can tear apart hammocks in under an hour, and really enjoys herself while doing so. She always keeps us thinking about how to redesign items to be more durable. Mona also loves to watch baby Karmila climbing in the trees. As soon as we can start building a large fenced enclosure on the new land International Animal Rescue is working to obtain, we hope to introduce these two.

Nicky and Huta
Nicky and Huta live in an enclosure with Mona, and they are constantly teasing each other like Tom and Jerry while Mona relaxes in her hammock. Just as Nicky thinks it’s time to rest and have some quiet time, Juta will surprise her with a poke to the side and start the shenanigans all over again!

John is a very curious young orangutan and he loves attention from staff.

He also really enjoys enrichment items with fruit hidden inside. Sometimes he gets frustrated and plays with something else if he is having trouble solving a puzzle, but he always returns to give it another try.

Baby Karmila surprises me every day with her climbing skills. I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time we hung her from a tree branch and she climbed all the way to the top of the tree! We assume that she didn’t have many climbing opportunities at her previous home as someone’s pet, so her abilities are all the more impressive. Her skinny little arms are growing bigger and stronger every day, and she drinks lots of milk every few hours to stay energetic. Her progress is a perfect example of what we aim to accomplish here at International Animal Rescue.

Pedro gave us a bit of a scare last week when he had a fever of 39.9 degrees celsius. All of the vets and staff gathered around to offer round the clock help. Veterinarian Anita never left his side, and she gently dabbed his head and neck with washcloths and natural herbs to help cool him down. Luckily, his temperature went back to normal, and he is back to climbing on his own and drinking plenty of milk. Whew!

JoJo is our strongest and oldest orangutan in Ketapang, and sometimes he shows off his power by spitting bits of food at his keepers (and volunteers)! Most of the time he is very friendly and funny, but when he wants attention, boy he knows how to get it!

Jingo is a very playful adult orangutan in Ketapang, and we frequently see him and JoJo wrestling and swinging into each other!

5 October 2010

Another slow loris saved from the illegal pet trade

Indri Hapsari from IAR’s education team in Indonesia updates us on the latest loris to arrive in Ciapus.

Rescued slow lorisOur latest slow loris was rescued on 28 September 2010. Its owner was Mr Apep who lives in Tapos 2 village, Tenjolaya. He bought the loris from a hunter for Rp. 350,000 on 16 September. The hunter also asked Mr Apep whether he would like him to cut the canine teeth of the loris (the hunter provides such a [teeth cutting] service).

The hunter had just caught the loris from the Bunder Mountain (Salak Mountains) and told Mr Apep that if he didn’t want to buy it he would sell it to Pramuka Bird Market in Jakarta.

When Mr Apep looked for information about slow lorises on the internet he found IAR’s website and then contacted us by email. Our rescue team went to his house and Mr Apep handed the loris over to them. He had kept the loris as a pet for 12 days, during which time he kept it inside a metal bird cage and fed it on apple, guava and banana.

The slow loris is a female. She is now in a quarantine cage in our Ciapus centre and appears to be perfectly healthy.