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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