27 March 2013

International Animal Rescue: Back to back rescues!

By vet Christine Nelson

Amin has finally arrived! It took nearly 24 hours of travel over a great distance and bumpy roads, but he has found a new home in Sungai Awan. The rescue team took the long journey through some areas of destroyed forest to the staff quarters of a mining company where Amin was kept as a pet for 2 years.  He was purchased by the company’s owner and mostly spent his time chained around the hips with a tree house for shelter.  Once he got a little older and a bit more destructive, he was moved to a platform in a tree, and the chain was put around his neck. 
Amin is gently lifted out of the
elevated platform he had been chained to

Amin is about 5 years old now and seems to be in good health despite his previous diet of rice and fried chicken with some fruits.  His behaviour has been a little unpredictable, but he is calming down and settling in fairly well. He has gone through some initial testing, but he will have to be re-evaluated, especially because of his long period of contact with humans.  

Soon after plans were made to pick up Amin, International Animal Rescue was made aware of another baby in need of rescue. It was hoped that this next new addition could be picked up the same day, but the team would have arrived too late in the night, so the operation had to be postponed. A couple of days later, a team was able to return and found a male orangutan named Onyo, aged between a year to 18 months old. This little one had lived with a man for about 7 months, and had been drinking milk and eating rice. The man stated that he likes to keep animals and that he found Onyo at the bottom of a tree after seeing the mother run away. This is highly unlikely, females orangutans do not simply leave their babies, so it is assumed that his mother met with a more unfortunate end. 
Little Onyo is bold and brave out in
the safety of the forest enclosure

Onyo is quite agreeable and has allowed us to do some health screening without sedation. He has a couple of dry skin lesions, but is in good health otherwise.  Onyo is having fun climbing in the trees and shaking the branches, as well as trying lots of new foods.  He seems to have no problem being in front of the camera, and he likes to offer many poses.  

Watch out for further updates on the progress of Amin and Onyo, as we will have more stories to tell after their quarantine is fulfilled and they can be introduced to the rest of the orangutans.

13 March 2013

International Animal Rescue: Update from the orangutan centre

By vet Christine Nelson

Roy shows off his his multi-tasking skills

Times are busy for the orangutans in Sungai Awan, as well as for the humans looking after them.  We are constantly tweaking the routine to better accomodate the animals and give them the most natural day possible.  The orangutans are always being encouraged to climb and explore in the forest.  Some possess strong instincts and are traveling high in the trees in search of fruit, ants, and termites, or they are settling down to make a nest.  Others are busy playing with the group and still learning what the forest has to offer.

Butan, Marcela, Merah, and Roy seem to be at the top of the class in forest school and more regularly go off on their own. Ongky, Ujang, Bandut, Sigit, and Puyol have now been brought from the transit center, which means we have successfully moved nearly half the orangutans to their new home in Sungai Awan. The latest arrivals are enjoying being the biggest individuals on site, but with plans for more moves soon, that won’t last long.  Joyce still acts a bit spoilt and cries when she doesn’t get her way, but she is playing well with Gunung, Noel, Rocky, and Rickina in the small baby group.  They have a fabulous spot in the forest where they can climb high in the trees or play on the hammocks and platforms provided. 
Best buddies Gunung and Noel couldn't be happier
than when they're swinging through the trees!
The transit center is a little quieter these days, as the number of babies that go to the play yard is smaller.  We are still making plans for moving the rest of the younger ones as construction continues.  Many of the adults are becoming familiarized with behaviors like presenting body parts for inspection or giving an arm for drawing blood voluntarily.  This provides some enrichment as well as allows for better medical examination and health management of the older animals.

There is also a new young orangutan who came to the Sungai Awan center in mid-February. He has been named Tribun due to some of the newspaper press coverage his rescue received. He came from the grounds of a palm oil plantation in Kuala Satong, and we became aware of his presence with the help of a local villager.  His behavior is not very wild, which means he was probably kept in captivity for longer than has been admitted to authorities. Tribun is about a year and a half old, and there are faint lines worn into his skin around his waist where he may have been tied or chained.  He can travel pretty fast in the trees, but he is thin and his muscles are not that strong.  We are waiting for him to gain that strength before undergoing his full health tests under anesthesia.  Preliminary blood test results are clear, so hopefully he will meet the other babies in the coming weeks. Read the full story about Tribun’s rescue here.
Poor Tribun was found living in a cardboard box
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