15 November 2010

Karmila finds friends in baby school and JoJo is overjoyed when John moves in

Our volunteer Carolynn sends us the latest news from our orangutan rescue centre in Ketapang.

Karmila and SigitBaby school got a new member last week when baby Karmila met the other orangutans for the first time. We had to keep her away for six weeks after her arrival to make certain she is healthy and free of any infectious diseases, and luckily all her test results came back negative. Time for the real fun to begin!

Karmila was very apprehensive about leaving her daddy’s arms (keeper Angi has been her round-the-clock caregiver since she arrived). The other orangutans were extremely curious and all wanted to touch and play with her, so this must have been quite a shock for Karmila. We decided to make her first visit a short one since we didn’t want to overwhelm her, but the next day we tried again. She did much better the second time and climbed up high in the trees with her new buddies.

Melky in particular loves to wrestle play with anyone new entering baby school, so we kept a close eye on Karmila just in case Melky got too rambunctious. A few times we had to intervene, but mostly Karmila did a great job tolerating her new friends’ playing habits.

I caught Melky wrestling a bit too rough with Karmila under the feeding platform a few hours into her stay, and decided to intervene. I yelled out, “Melky no!!!” as I ran over, and before I got there Melky let go of Karmila and started to walk away. As soon as Karmila’s arms were free and Melky’s back was turned, Karmila grabbed a fistful of Melky’s hair with one hand and swatted at him with the other. I’ve never felt more proud of her, since a girl’s got to know how to defend herself! I’m extremely confident Karmila will thrive in baby school, and find her place within the group.

John and JeraKarmila wasn’t the only orangutan making new friends this week in Ketapang, since orangutan John also moved to a new living space. We introduced John to JoJo and Jingo, and they had such a fun time playing that we decided to keep them together in the same enclosure. As soon as we opened the doors, JoJo immediately ran to John and gave him a big hug that turned into an hour long wrestling match. I haven’t ever seen JoJo so filled with excitement, as he rolled about with John all around their enclosure. Jingo was also clearly excited, but he waited a few moments before joining the match. I frantically took pictures from every angle and position I could think of, but all of the photos turned out looking like the Tasmanian devil in a ball of fur! Luckily, I got a few decent shots later in the week.

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