It’s never a phone call we wish to receive, but in the same week that our team rescued a pair of wild orangutans from an isolated oil palm plantation, we received news of another orangutan being kept as a pet also in need of rescue. The owner had contacted government officials as they could no longer care for the ape, and therefore Orangutan Foundation staff were called upon to assist.
Arriving at the property where the orangutan was being kept in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, it quickly became apparent that the individual had been kept there a very long time. Our team tentatively approached a wooden crate with litter strewn on the ground surrounding it.
The orangutan had been named Pegi by her owner. It transpired that Pegi was a female orangutan found as a 1-year-old in 2012 and incredibly had been living in her cramped wooden crate as a pet for the following 7 years on a diet of rice, noodles, fruit and sugary drinks. Certainly not a diet suitable for orangutans.
After obtaining as much information about the young orangutan as possible and informing the owner of the prohibitions around keeping wild animals’ captive, our team freed Pegi from her cage and transported her to a government facility (BKSDA) where her health could be inspected.
Fortunately under examination Pegi seemed in good health, and as her blood tests received the all-clear, she was ready to be taken to her new home at Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. It’s here that she’ll join another orphaned orangutan, Okto, in our soft-release programme, with the hope of one day being released into the wild.
The early years of any orangutan’s life are the most important in order to learn how to survive in the wild. With Pegi’s traumatic start to her young life, and perhaps never even climbing a tree before, she will need encouragement to learn these skills in the best possible training ground there is- the forest.