The sun burned mercilessly from the sky. We had received an anonymous tip that a baby orangutan was being kept as a pet in the village of Pangkoh in the Pulang Pisau region. Together with the nature conservation authority, we set out to free another ape orphan.
It was already afternoon when we finally arrived at the house of the family house, that had taken in the little orangutan. What we saw when we entered the house was not an unusual picture, but it still breaks our hearts every time. On the arm of the "owner" a small ball of fur was waiting to be saved. It looked at our team with big eyes, we saw insecurity in its look. In the relentless heat that prevailed that day, it was wearing a child's dress and was very apathetic.
It often happens that families take in orangutan babies and treat them like a living doll. Feed them scraps of food that are unhealthy for animals, dress them like a child, and when they have had enough, they put them back into a cage. It was the same with Monita, as we called her a short time later.
The little orangutan was incredibly hot because of its fur and the clothing. We found out that the keepers had picked up the girl just a few days earlier. It must have been wandering around in a wooded area near a palm oil plantation. There was no trace of the mother. However, we know that a mom orangutan would never leave her child alone. Therefore, it was clear that the worst must has happened and the mother must have perished.
We took care of the little one and brought it to our Nyaru Menteng Protection Center. Vet Arga Sawung Kusuma examined the baby and found that it was a girl. She was only three months old. Fortunately, she was in good shape. Arga stayed with her all night, giving her back the security that had been taken from her since the loss of her mom. The next day we called her Monita and she met her babysitter. She was put into quarantine for two months, where we pepped her up with milk and lots of cuddles.
Finally, the time had come to let her meet the baby group. Monita was finally able to see her new friends! She was allowed to go outside, play at the playground and explore the nature. We were finally able to start the training to become a wild orangutan. The first lesson was all about “Leaves”. Her babysitter found a few different branches and showed them to Monita so that she could get a first impression of the green. It turned out that the little girl was afraid of greens. Perhaps nothing unusual for human children, but not entirely normal for an orangutan. We do not know what must have happened in Monita's young life that she developed such a trauma and was afraid of her own living space. We only know how to deal with those hurdles. We try to encourage our orangutans on their way with plenty of love and patience. And so Monita learned to love leaves a few weeks later - regardless of the tree.
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