15 April 2011
The infants are given plenty of playthings to keep them out of trouble!
Paloma updates us on how Monte is getting on at International Animal Rescue's orangutan centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.
A new play area has been built in the baby school at the orangutan rescue centre. The infants and babies were becoming very difficult to control because there are so many of them and the area is really too small for such a naughty group! For this reason it was decided to build another roof and add more structures and enrichments to focus our infants’ attention and give them something new to play with and enjoy together.
From my observations last year and at the moment as well, I can see that they really like the vertical and horizontal ropes and they love the tubes. They go inside them and rest there or just play going in, on or through. So we have equipped the area with various physical enrichments, some different from the tube function, some similar, adding also ropes, ladders and hammocks.
One example is the tube made out of a big barrel. I just cut the bottom off the barrel and put the rope through it, then hung it high up from one side of the play area to the other. I made some holes as windows so that when the orangutans are inside the barrel they can observe what is going on outside. We have hung two of them up in the play area and they really love them.
Another thing they used to like last year were the hammocks with roofs made from tyres and sacks. Before I tried this just with two tyres but now I have tried it with three, and it is much better! I like to use the tyres because they are made of very strong material and so are very durable and we also get them for free. So I have tried other ways to make the tubes a bit different. Using a net and the tyres, it is possible to make tubes that are vertical and horizontal, and they seem to enjoy using them a lot.
With the horizontal tube, the net gets smaller in the centre of the tube as it is very tight. Then, when they go inside they use it to lie down and it makes them slide from one side to another. With the vertical tube the orangutans like to climb it from the inside, at the same time playing at putting the net on their faces. I also add a rope inside with many bamboo pieces so they can play with it, moving the bamboo and getting pleasure just with the noise the bamboo makes. The tyres have also been used to make a simple wall of tyres: it is very easy to do and they really love going through, up and over it.
Although there are already many structures and the orangutans play a lot in the new area, it is important to evaluate now how much they use each new enrichment and how durable it is. Then we can fix the ones that haven’t been successful and look for ways to improve them and make them work. I love this task and the most rewarding thing about it is seeing how much the orangutans all enjoy it!