The orangutans at the care center range from babies to adults, and are here for a multitude of reasons. Some have chronic disease and will not survive in the wild. Others are young orphans and need a place to call home in the denuded rain forest. Their mothers were killed because they wandered into the wrong area (usually a palm oil plantation), or their mothers were killed because some citizen wanted a baby orangutan in their house (which is illegal). When this baby is discovered (usually a neighbor rats them out) it is confiscated by the authorities and brought to the Care Center.
These babies are oh so cute, and act like human children. They are so similar to us that in your mind you easily mix them up and think you are dealing with homo sapiens and not pongo pygmaeus. Looking into their eyes you get a fascinating insight into our evolution. It takes time to absorb the fact you are looking at a common ancestor that goes back millions of years. Your mind reels with the profound implications in all of this.
When you view this page you better appreciate what it is like trying to take photos with one hand, while these babies are trying to jump on you, search every part of your body for peanuts, or grabbing your camera strap and trying to drag your camera into the forest.
Do not go through this page without clicking on these pictures to see larger versions!
The local people that work at the Care Center are the unsung heroes. Here a just a few of them showing their dedication
The volunteers are just as dedicated and devote at least 6 months of their time without any pay
After a busy day we spent social time with them learning Indonesian and appreciating their warmth and dedication to their cause
The babies are taken out into the jungle around the Care Center to socialize and gain strength and coordination as they play in the jungle gym and climb trees. This time spent with them while playing could easily be the highlight of the trip, so I will show you lots of pictures and include a few short videos at the end.
There are several ways to get the babies the jungle gym and forest. Some hitch a ride on your back…..
…..while others jump on the red bus and get wheeled there. They sit peacefully knowing that soon they will get their chance to act their age!
As long as they sit still it easy to balance the wheel barrel. When they start wiggling its tough not to tip over because they are heavier than they look
If you make it this far without tipping them you are almost there
Once they arrive its a definite free-for-all at the jungle gym
Upon arrival some hang around the gym area
Others prefer to play in the trees
Some decide you are more fun than a tree so they jump into your lap or pull at your pants until you play with them
While the others played this little guy named Turbo sat by himself seeming to pout and decided to put this bag on his head. Turbo is surrounded by caretakers at all times to make sure the bag stays only on top of his head.
He just sat there sucking his hand
It took a while but eventually I was able to touch his hand
Now that we were friends he moved the bag slightly off his head and took the peanut I offered
He gently chewed it with his prehensile lips
No self respecting orangutan is going to eat just one peanut, so he asked for another
It started to rain, so with the peanut still in his mouth he decided to utilize my umbrella. I could barely take these photos I was laughing so hard!
He pulled the umbrella completely over his head….
…and looked skyward until it stopped raining.
I had to bribe him with another peanut to get my umbrella back
When the rain stopped he decided that the salty peanuts made him thirsty so he asked for a drink
Brodie’s dedication to working with Turbo every afternoon paid off, because after these photos were taken Turbo started interacting with the other babies a little more- yea Brodie!
If you want to see a few short videos that show some of this in action here is your chance to be entertained like we were with these babies.
Peanut eating time
Wes walking with me to the jungle gym
Its not easy to film them with one hand while fending off attacks with the other
If you have any peanuts on your possession they will look everywhere (and I mean everywhere) to find them
Click here to return to the Orangutans of Borneo home page.