14 December 2010

Our boisterous new orangutan babies are bundles of mischief

Our volunteer Carolynn sends us the latest news from our orangutan rescue centre in Ketapang.


Carolynn and rescued baby orangutan PuyolWhen our team first rescued one-year-old Puyol last week, his condition was stable but he was in dire need of veterinary care. Puyol was taken from his mother about two months ago by poachers and the incident was likely quite violent given the infected machete wounds on Puyol's abdomen and arms. Doctors Karmele, Anita, and Adi cleaned up Puyol's wounds and began treatments immediately for infection and malnutrition. The day of Puyol's rescue, he immediately latched onto Dr Karmele, and devoured bananas and formula with glee. Giving medication was never a problem since Puyol has been such a good eater. The keepers and volunteers have been toeing the line between showering Puyol with attention and encouraging him to play and climb with our other new baby orangutans Jack and Ledi. It is important to meet any baby's emotional needs, but also very important to begin training for baby school and hopefully an eventual reintroduction into the wild.

The other night, I tried to get Puyol to sleep in his hammock playpen by sitting next to him until he fell asleep. It took about 20 minutes just to get him off my lap without a fuss, and about a half hour later he fell asleep. I went to cover the top of his sleeping area with a towel in the hopes that he would sleep more soundly, but as soon as he sensed movement his head shot up and he gave a look that to me quite clearly meant, "Ummm, I'm not asleep yet. Don't you dare think of tricking me with that towel and walking away." I remember giving similar looks to my poor mother as a child, so I felt it was time I returned the favor. Puyol's head rested again on his teddy bear as soon as he saw me sit down again, and within ten minutes he was out. Success!

Jack and Ledi

Rescued baby orangutans Jakc and LediOrangutans Jack and Ledi were rescued the same day as Puyol, but luckily they had been kept as pets under better conditions. Both Jack and Ledi are already fantastic climbers and they spend most of their day playing in the trees and swinging on ropes at our rehabilitation center. Watching them can be exhausting though, since Jack has become quite naughty about pulling hair the second your back is turned. He loves the attention and of course the reaction, so you've got to stay on your toes. Ledi wanted nothing to do with this type of horseplay when she first arrived, and she would hoot and holler at the sight of any play-wrestling that she misinterpreted as conflict. It didn't take long for Ledi to get used to it, however, since she has since joined in on the hair pulling sneak attacks. "At least they're healthy," I think to myself. "Very naughty, but healthy indeed."

23 November 2010

Sweet, gentle Mely starts to enjoy life

Our volunteer Carolynn sends us the latest news from our orangutan rescue centre in Ketapang.

Mely the rescued orangutanIAR rescued Mely last month from horrendous conditions where she had been chained to a deck for 15 years, and it has been a privilege to watch her progress here in Ketapang. When Mely first arrived, her steps were very calculated and slow since she literally had to learn how to walk and climb, but now she can zip around her enclosure with ease and has no problems climbing to the top. She has become quite playful, and I always see her weaving in and out of tyre swings and ropes suspended in mid air.

Mely’s personality is so sweet that I never would have guessed that she came from such a horrific background. She always comes over to say hello whenever anyone greets her, and she is incredibly gentle. Sometimes when cleaning the enclosures, the orangutans will try to grab the rakes and brooms to play with them - or in many cases to tear them apart - and sometimes Mely tries to grab at them too. The difference is that Mely always promptly lets go as soon as I say her name somewhat firmly. Her eyes seem to apologize in an, “I’m so sorry, I just couldn’t resist trying to touch it for a second,” kind of way. I know Mely is stronger than I am, but she is so respectful that all I have to do is ask if I need something from her.

15 November 2010

Karmila finds friends in baby school and JoJo is overjoyed when John moves in

Our volunteer Carolynn sends us the latest news from our orangutan rescue centre in Ketapang.

Karmila and SigitBaby school got a new member last week when baby Karmila met the other orangutans for the first time. We had to keep her away for six weeks after her arrival to make certain she is healthy and free of any infectious diseases, and luckily all her test results came back negative. Time for the real fun to begin!

Karmila was very apprehensive about leaving her daddy’s arms (keeper Angi has been her round-the-clock caregiver since she arrived). The other orangutans were extremely curious and all wanted to touch and play with her, so this must have been quite a shock for Karmila. We decided to make her first visit a short one since we didn’t want to overwhelm her, but the next day we tried again. She did much better the second time and climbed up high in the trees with her new buddies.

Melky in particular loves to wrestle play with anyone new entering baby school, so we kept a close eye on Karmila just in case Melky got too rambunctious. A few times we had to intervene, but mostly Karmila did a great job tolerating her new friends’ playing habits.

I caught Melky wrestling a bit too rough with Karmila under the feeding platform a few hours into her stay, and decided to intervene. I yelled out, “Melky no!!!” as I ran over, and before I got there Melky let go of Karmila and started to walk away. As soon as Karmila’s arms were free and Melky’s back was turned, Karmila grabbed a fistful of Melky’s hair with one hand and swatted at him with the other. I’ve never felt more proud of her, since a girl’s got to know how to defend herself! I’m extremely confident Karmila will thrive in baby school, and find her place within the group.

John and JeraKarmila wasn’t the only orangutan making new friends this week in Ketapang, since orangutan John also moved to a new living space. We introduced John to JoJo and Jingo, and they had such a fun time playing that we decided to keep them together in the same enclosure. As soon as we opened the doors, JoJo immediately ran to John and gave him a big hug that turned into an hour long wrestling match. I haven’t ever seen JoJo so filled with excitement, as he rolled about with John all around their enclosure. Jingo was also clearly excited, but he waited a few moments before joining the match. I frantically took pictures from every angle and position I could think of, but all of the photos turned out looking like the Tasmanian devil in a ball of fur! Luckily, I got a few decent shots later in the week.

3 November 2010

Pedro's sickness scares us all, while Mely soon settles in

Volunteer Carolynn from Seattle sends us the latest news from our orangutan rescue centre in Ketapang.

Pedro the baby orangutanLast week was a stressful one here in Ketapang when our youngest orangutan, baby Pedro, became very ill. Monday morning was business as usual, with Pedro active and happy, but by lunchtime his fever had escalated to 40.2 degrees Celsius, and his eyes had sunk deep into his head with a look of drowsiness and disassociation. Veterinarians Dr Karmele and Dr Adi promptly put in an IV line to help bring his fever down and keep him hydrated while I dabbed his head and chest with a cool washcloth as he lay on my lap.

Pedro’s arms and legs cramped up and his skin was covered in goose-bumps. I was tempted to cover him with a blanket when Dr Karmele said, “The most important thing is that we get his fever down. People are tempted to cover themselves when they have the chills, but this could escalate his fever further. We have to cool his body.”

I prepared myself for the worst, since Pedro still had a fever hours later and large amounts of diarrhea. An IV pump and an Xray machine would have really come in handy to help with monitoring his status and diagnosing the illness, but we haven’t been able to buy either of those yet. Luckily, he was still willing to drink when offered a bottle and Pedro did improve by the end of the day.

The rest of the week was more of the same, with moments of recovery followed by the return of his fever. We tested him for every infectious disease and condition within our means, but no answers were found. Lack of sleep and worry had everyone on edge since Pedro needed 24-hour care. We took shifts watching him, but it’s hard to sleep while worrying about the little guy. Plus, it was quite a challenge keeping a constant eye on Pedro during a shift because he was very curious about the IV line in his arm and kept trying to tug and bite at it.

A wave of relief finally came on Sunday when it had been 24 hours since his last fever, and we were able to remove his IV line. It felt so good to hold him in my arms without a tube keeping him attached to his drip bag. Pedro was free!

The last few days came and went without a problem, and Pedro’s behavior has returned to normal. Well, almost normal, since I think he got used to the non-stop attention and affection over the last week. I’m so relieved our sweet little Pedro is recovering and able to give us strong hugs again.

Mely, our latest rescued orangutanWatching new orangutan Mely take her first steps into her new enclosure was a prideful moment for everyone at the center. Mely got to do so many things for the first time that day, like touch the hand of another orangutan (besides her mother when she was a baby), climb higher than one meter off the ground, and sleep in a bed of leaves. We were also able to remove the chain around Mely's neck later in the day, which was likely the most freeing moment of all for her.

Mely will have to learn what it means to be an orangutan, and we are delighted to help her with this transition. She will begin learning how to climb and find food off the ground in her current enclosure, but the real test will come once we have the funds to build a fence around our new forest land so that we can move the orangutans there. I can’t wait to see how Mely responds to climbing her first tree!

20 October 2010

Life is a barrel of fun for our orangutans in Ketapang

Volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Baby orangutans at play

Baby School

Every now and again we put wood chips in rubber barrels as a type of sensory enrichment for the baby school orangutans. Food based enrichment is the easiest to make since it isn’t a challenge to interest an orangutan in a novel object with a tasty treat hidden inside, but we want to encourage them to explore and learn about new objects even if they aren’t full of yummy foods.

Melky covered in wood chipsLast week, Monti and Sindi put on quite a show wrestling and hurling handfuls of wood chips all over the place.

Melky particularly made me laugh because he kept leaning his head back and dropping handfuls all over himself. What a delightful mess indeed! All of the orangutans had at least a few chips stuck on them by the time everyone took a rest in one of the elevated mesh nests. Good times.

Emergency Orangutan Centre

We also provided some resourceful enrichment last week at the emergency centre where the adult orangutans live.

JoJo and Jingo share a coconutAfter a long afternoon of moving animals between enclosures so that staff could go inside to rearrange their hammocks and swinging ropes, everyone (orangutan and human alike) earned a coconut.

Orangutan John was so excited he hardly knew what to do with himself, running and jumping about. After John had finished eating most of his coconut, I caught him wearing a piece of the shell as a hat. He is such a character.

JoJo opened up a coconut and held it above his head to drink some of the milk, but two streams of milk came rushing out. Jingo hurried over to drink from the other stream, and the two boys enjoyed their refreshing snack together!

18 October 2010

Mona is a real madam and John loses a tug of war

Volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Mona, Huta and NickyOn Sunday we gave all the adult orangutans a few long pieces of sugar cane as part of their enrichment. They all chewed their tebu (Indonesian for sugar cane) in their favorite private places to enjoy a tasty treat, and inevitably a few pieces fell to the ground out of reach. I saw Mona struggling to reach a piece that had fallen, and her fingertips were just barely tapping the top in frustration. She had a stick in the other hand that she used to try to pry it up, but after watching her struggle for a minute or so I decided to come over and help. I bent down, picked up the tebu, and placed it in her hand but she immediately rejected it and threw it back on the ground!

I thought maybe this was somehow an accident so reached down again and brought it up to her more directly. Without hesitation she slapped it out of my hand so sharply that it almost hit me on the head!

Mona is very clear in her communication of, “No, I would not like your help thank you very much!” I decided not to take it personally, particularly as I see her behave the same way with her buddies Huta and Nicky. I recently set up a long PVC tube with holes in it that are just too small to fit fingers through, and I put tasty foods inside like mini bananas and cucumber chunks. Mona is always the first in her group to try to solve the puzzle of ‘how to get to the food’ with new enrichment items, and when Huta and Nicky came to help, she batted their arms away in an, “I’ve got this one,” sort of manner. Mona was right too, because she was the only one who cottoned on to the fact that you have to use a tool like a stick or piece of wire (that she had stolen from me earlier in the day) to push the food to the open sides of the tube. Nicky kept trying to use her tongue to push the food, and Huta for some reason kept trying to push a burlap sack through the holes. Needless to say, Mona figured it out first, and snatched a couple of the bananas. I certainly wouldn’t call Mona a bully though, since after she got her reward she left the device to enjoy her food in her favorite hammock. Nicky and Huta enjoyed the rest of the fruit and veggies having learned how to solve the puzzle by watching her. I’d say they have a fair system for sharing indeed!

Tug of war

A couple of times a week I like to set up a strong rope in between the adult orangutan enclosures to create a “tug of war” game. The orangutans seem to enjoy this game, and I always end up laughing at their differing strategies. Orangutan John is almost always a contender since his enclosure is adjacent to all the others. John is younger than the others, but he puts up a good fight.

John playing tug of war with JoJo and JingoThe other day I gave one end of the rope to John, and the other to Jingo and Jojo. John playfully began tugging his end from Jojo, but Jojo only had to step on his end to keep it from flying away, since he probably has more strength in one leg than John has in his entire body! Jingo was chewing on the excess rope inside his and Jojo’s enclosure, but it didn’t matter since Jojo’s grip was going nowhere.

I decided to join “Team John” by grabbing the rope and helping him tug, and Jojo immediately shot me a look of betrayal which said, “How dare you take sides with that scrawny child!”

John and I tugged and tugged, but the rope barely moved. I felt something whipping me on the side, and when I looked over John was keeping the rope steady with one arm and flinging the excess rope at me with the other! He was probably just using the opportunity to get more attention, but nonetheless I decided to withdraw and let the boys duel it out. Within 5 or 10 minutes it was all over, with Jojo and Jingo coming out victorious. Some day we’ll have to set up an official bracket with prizes, and maybe a bundle of bananas tied to the middle of the rope as an extra incentive!

6 October 2010

The rescued orangutans are full of mischief and fun

New volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the orangutans’ antics at our centre in Ketapang.

Mona, Huta and NickyMona
Mona is both the most gentle and most destructive adult orangutan at our centre in Ketapang. She is always gentle with humans and other orangutans, but the minute she gets her hands on a new enrichment item, destruction is her middle name. She can tear apart hammocks in under an hour, and really enjoys herself while doing so. She always keeps us thinking about how to redesign items to be more durable. Mona also loves to watch baby Karmila climbing in the trees. As soon as we can start building a large fenced enclosure on the new land International Animal Rescue is working to obtain, we hope to introduce these two.

Nicky and Huta
Nicky and Huta live in an enclosure with Mona, and they are constantly teasing each other like Tom and Jerry while Mona relaxes in her hammock. Just as Nicky thinks it’s time to rest and have some quiet time, Juta will surprise her with a poke to the side and start the shenanigans all over again!

John is a very curious young orangutan and he loves attention from staff.

He also really enjoys enrichment items with fruit hidden inside. Sometimes he gets frustrated and plays with something else if he is having trouble solving a puzzle, but he always returns to give it another try.

Baby Karmila surprises me every day with her climbing skills. I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time we hung her from a tree branch and she climbed all the way to the top of the tree! We assume that she didn’t have many climbing opportunities at her previous home as someone’s pet, so her abilities are all the more impressive. Her skinny little arms are growing bigger and stronger every day, and she drinks lots of milk every few hours to stay energetic. Her progress is a perfect example of what we aim to accomplish here at International Animal Rescue.

Pedro gave us a bit of a scare last week when he had a fever of 39.9 degrees celsius. All of the vets and staff gathered around to offer round the clock help. Veterinarian Anita never left his side, and she gently dabbed his head and neck with washcloths and natural herbs to help cool him down. Luckily, his temperature went back to normal, and he is back to climbing on his own and drinking plenty of milk. Whew!

JoJo is our strongest and oldest orangutan in Ketapang, and sometimes he shows off his power by spitting bits of food at his keepers (and volunteers)! Most of the time he is very friendly and funny, but when he wants attention, boy he knows how to get it!

Jingo is a very playful adult orangutan in Ketapang, and we frequently see him and JoJo wrestling and swinging into each other!

5 October 2010

Another slow loris saved from the illegal pet trade

Indri Hapsari from IAR’s education team in Indonesia updates us on the latest loris to arrive in Ciapus.

Rescued slow lorisOur latest slow loris was rescued on 28 September 2010. Its owner was Mr Apep who lives in Tapos 2 village, Tenjolaya. He bought the loris from a hunter for Rp. 350,000 on 16 September. The hunter also asked Mr Apep whether he would like him to cut the canine teeth of the loris (the hunter provides such a [teeth cutting] service).

The hunter had just caught the loris from the Bunder Mountain (Salak Mountains) and told Mr Apep that if he didn’t want to buy it he would sell it to Pramuka Bird Market in Jakarta.

When Mr Apep looked for information about slow lorises on the internet he found IAR’s website and then contacted us by email. Our rescue team went to his house and Mr Apep handed the loris over to them. He had kept the loris as a pet for 12 days, during which time he kept it inside a metal bird cage and fed it on apple, guava and banana.

The slow loris is a female. She is now in a quarantine cage in our Ciapus centre and appears to be perfectly healthy.

28 September 2010

Silje the slow loris continues to enjoy her freedom

UK researcher Richard Moore is working with our team in Java to study the viability of returning captive lorises to the wild. He reports the latest on Silje who was released some four weeks ago.

Silje the slow lorisSilje is still doing well on the mountain - feeding and foraging, and is still in the same area (making a home range), so this is very good news. The monitoring is continuous and we are managing to get some vital data on this very little known primate at last! All this data will help with future releases and also with the welfare of lorises in captivity.

The keepers have managed to get a couple of really good photos of Silje foraging and feeding on Kaliandra flowers. She is eating about 100 flowers a night, as well as fruit (yet to be identified), insects and sap. It’s all looking very positive!

27 September 2010

Our orangutans in baby school come on in leaps and bounds!

New volunteer Carolynn from Seattle updates us on the young orangutans at our centre in Ketapang.

Since arriving at our centre in Ketapang last week, Karmila has been active and ever curious about the world around her. Despite her skinny little arms and legs, she has been climbing and exploring almost constantly when not eating or sleeping. It didn’t take her long to get used to drinking milk and eating more nutrient-rich foods and she shrieks with excitement when she sees her food on the way. Karmila loves the companionship of others and she uses her firm grip to keep herself wrapped around her caregiver’s neck. She also loves chewing leaves, tugging on branches, or snuggling up with her cozy soft teddy bear.

Pedro, now almost six months old, is as sociable and sweet as can be. He is always happier when surrounded by others. When not in the arms of his caretaker, Pedro spends lots of time with his buddy Paolo. Pedro loves to take naps sprawled out on his caretaker’s lap, but for some reason tends to pull and pick at the hair on top of his head. We hope that this behaviour will lessen as he gets older and interacts more with other orangutans.

Thankfully Paolo, now six months old, has made a full recovery from malaria. His grip is strong for climbing and hanging, and he enjoys practising with the older orangutans in baby school. Paolo also doesn’t mind playing and climbing on the infant playpen by himself or with his buddy Pedro. He also loves eating and sleeping and now weighs 5kg! He can drink 100ml of milk in 60 seconds and he has a big belly and small cheek pads on his face... I think it’s almost time to put him on a diet!

Sindi is a great leader in baby school. We want to encourage the baby orangutans to climb as much as possible, and no one sets a better example than Sindi. She is very independent and has taught herself how to climb high up in the trees. Sometimes she surprises her keepers by sneaking up on them and plopping down onto the ground from the trees. There is never a dull moment when Sindi is near!

Ujang is a very sweet and gentle orangutan from our baby school, but he is still having some trouble learning to climb. He didn’t get enough calcium during his first year of life, so his bones didn’t grow as strong and thick as they should be. He gets around just fine by crawling on the ground, but we try to encourage him to climb by hiding snacks in the trees and playing with him on elevated platforms.

Monti has become quite the climber in baby school, and makes friends with new volunteers quite quickly.

She is far from the oldest in our group, but Monti has the thickest and shiniest coat of hair in the bunch. She never minds modelling for the many pictures we take of her!

Melky is a very confident young orangutan, and like any young male, he enjoys testing boundaries at every opportunity.

He is very clever, and is always one of the first to discover new enrichment items and hidden snacks.

22 September 2010

Karmila the baby orangutan joins our family in Ketapang

Karmele, International Animal Rescue's Veterinary Director in Indonesia, updates us on the latest orangutan to join our family in Ketapang.

Karmila the infant orangutanOur latest arrival at the orangutan rescue centre is baby Karmila. We received information about her from local group Yayasan palung and they accompanied us during the confiscation, together with the BKSDA authorities. She was being kept by a very poor family who claimed they had found her in Lawang Darah, the area of Limpah Sejahtera state - a subsidiary palm company to First Resources. A few months back, our team rescued Helen and Jera from the same plantation. I hate to think how many orangutans have died in this plantation.

The baby is only 10 months old but she looks very skinny and is smaller than she should be at this age. For the two and a half months that she lived with the owners she would only eat rice, so it’s no wonder that she's malnourished. At least now, we can provide her with a suitable diet and veterinary care. She has lost her mother and her home, but she is in safe hands and we will give her the best chance to grow up and one day return to a protected area in the wild.

» Watch Karmila's rescue on YouTube

17 September 2010

Youngest loris yet arrives at our Ciapus centre

Young slow lorisThe latest slow loris to arrive at our primate rehabilitation centre in Java is tiny and very young - probably only two or three months old. The owners bought her in the pet market without even knowing what kind of animal she was. It was only by looking on the internet that they discovered she was a loris and therefore an endangered species. They contacted International Animal Rescue and our rescue team picked her up in Bandung.

Although very small, she seems generally healthy. It was concerning to learn from the owners that they paid more for the loris because she was so small: the older ones were 300.000 rupiahs (about £21) but this very young one was 500.000 rupiahs (about £35.50). This is not good news.

13 September 2010

Silje the slow loris seems to be settling in

UK researcher Richard Moore is working with our team in Java to study the viability of returning captive lorises to the wild.

Slow loris in habituation enclosure prior to releaseThe latest release of the female loris Silje seems to be going well so far. She has now been up the mountain for six nights and we have monitored her intensively since the release. She has not strayed away from the release area and seems to be gradually travelling further and further afield, but always returning - almost forming a range. However this is still early days, so better not be too optimistic just yet. There are definitely some good signs though...

Every night she is becoming more habituated so we can get really close to her. She is feeding constantly on Caliandra flowers, and insects, and some tree sap...  and she is always on the move. The area she is in is an area which is not flat by any means, but still accessible (even though full of thorny bushes). On the second night she fell 8m out of a tree in a fight with another loris (how on earth does she find them, when we had searched the area for so long!!), but seems to be ok and has not left the area. I guess this is normal behaviour in forming territories. Last night though I did have reports that she had been attacked by a civet - she is injured, but not too badly by the sounds of things. Hopefully she will make a full recovery and continue to do well.

Silje the loris is from this area, so it is possible she knows what is edible and what is not, and is also familiar with the environment/temperature etc in general. Fingers crossed. I am currently writing a presentation for the conference in Japan, so will not be on the mountain for the next few days. But there are now two teams alternating to ensure round the clock monitoring.

The internet here has been terrible the last few days, and only seems to work in the mornings when I have been sleeping which is really frustrating!

3 September 2010

Little Paolo suffers a setback

PaoloSince his arrival at the rehabilitation centre, Paolo's condition had improved steadily. The wounds on his left and right legs healed well and his weight increased from 2.77 kg to 3.87 kg thanks largely to his four carers who give him his morning and evening milk!

Once he was feeling better Paolo became increasingly active. He started to do a lot of climbing and his grip became much stronger. There were also the first signs of his lower incisor teeth coming through.

Then one night Paolo clearly had a fever. The next day his blood was sent to the lab and the results came back positive for malaria. So Paolo has been put on anti-malaria treatment. Hopefully he will make a speedy recovery so that he can get back to his climbing antics! Reports on his general physical and mental development are good: he is already brave enough to dangle on a rope and is generally an active little orangutan with a calm, easygoing personality.

23 August 2010

Monti becomes more independent

IAR Vet Dr Adi updates us on the progress of infant orangutan Monti at our emergency rescue centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Monti is growing up!Monti is a female baby orangutan from Delta Pawan. When she arrived at the IAR rehabilitation centre on 30 November last year she was the real baby of the group. Now she is a lot bigger and weighs 5.7 kg. She has also grown dense long hair all over her body.

Monti is friends with Bunga and Melky and they are sometimes seen playing together on the platform in the 'baby school' at the centre. But much of the time Monti prefers to spend time alone, playing happily in the trees.

Since sleeping in an enclosure with Sigit, Monti has become far more active and independent. She no longer relies on the human carers to make her feel safe. She has also grown increasingly bold and brave at climbing even the tallest trees at the centre.

» Sponsor Monti

20 August 2010

Update on the slow loris release project

UK researcher Richard Moore is working with our team in Java to study the viability of returning captive lorises to the wild.

So far we have released four lorises with collars. Sadly one has died of unknown causes. By the time we retrieved the body, it was already starting to decompose so there was no way of conducting a post-mortem investigation. We knew its rough location, but could not see it at first. It was 23m up in a pine tree, which we needed ropes to climb. By the time we had located it, got hold of some ropes and climbed the tree - it looked like it had already been dead for four days or so. It was a great shame, because it appeared to be feeding well, and moving freely up to this point. (Also it was in an area where it was easy for us to follow it).

Slow loris being prepared for releaseThe other loris released at that time travelled down the mountain, out of the forest and into some gardens. We thought this was dangerous for the loris as there are many dogs in the area and also people working. As the loris was not in thick forest and quite exposed, we figured if the people came across it they might capture it to sell in the markets - so we caught it again ourselves and re-released it higher up. Three days later it was back in the gardens, this time further down, in between houses. It had even crossed a road to get there. I am uncertain why it is choosing to come here, as it is very noisy and slightly exposed. It also seems very happy to travel on the ground – which is quite surprising, although there are some other reports of this. I have seen it travelling across large grassed areas, with its head just bobbing up and down above the grass. Anyway, we recaptured it again, and plan to get its weight back up, then try again in a different location.

In the second release we now have one loris still quite high up the mountain. It is in an area which is virtually impossible to access, owing to the very steep sided cliffs - although we HAVE spent the last week trying to reach it! The signal seems to be moving so it would appear to be still alive, which is the main thing. And in this area it is probably very safe from recapture.

The other loris in the second collared release disappeared for a week (ie. we lost the signal), but last night we managed to track it down again. It has moved right round the mountain and come down a different valley, but is now very close to paddy fields. This may also be a problem, as there are many people working in this area too. However, we are planning to go up there tonight and see how it is doing. Hopefully if we give it some time, it may choose to move back up into a safer location.

9 August 2010

Kiki the slow loris from Cilandak

At the end of May IAR's rescue team went to the house of Mr and Mrs Johan in West Cilandak, South Jakarta. The people wanted to give their slow loris to International Animal Rescue.

Kiki the rescued slow lorisThe slow loris had turned up in the yard of Mr Johan's house and was found hanging on the bird cage. It might have come from a nearby house.

Like most people, Mr Johan thought that the animal was a cuscus. But a week later he found out that it was in fact a slow loris which is a protected species and cannot be a pet. So then Mr Johan tried to look for a place that would accept the slow loris and he found IAR. It was a female Javan slow loris named Kiki.

While Mr Johan was taking care of Kiki, he did not know that she was a nocturnal animal. He gave her banana, carrot and papaya which isn't the slow loris' natural food. The cage where Kiki lived was also very open and let in lots of sunlight so that she couldn't sleep well during the day. Besides that, the location of the cage was near an alley with plenty of people and noises disturbing Kiki's tranquillity. These conditions made her very stressed, and by the fifth day she had started to lose her appetite.

Kiki lived in a bird cageKiki's condition when the rescue team arrived was very sad. She was very thin with no canine teeth on her upper or lower jaw (they had been removed by force), while the other teeth were flat (it seems they had intentionally been made flat using nail clippers so that the slow loris would look like a tame animal). She was taken to IAR's rehabilitation centre in Ciapus-Bogor and, after being checked by the medical team, she was moved into a quarantine cage.

Let's hope that Kiki can live a healthier life from now on and if possible one day go back to her home in the wild.

2 August 2010

We welcome a new slow loris to Ciapus

On 27 July we took in a Sumatran slow loris (Nycticebus Coucang) weighing 800 grams and 34 cm in length. He was handed over by someone from Bekasi Timur, Jakarta.

Olip the slow lorisAccording to his owner, the slow loris had been purchased from a dealer in Jakarta City for Rp. 150,000. At the time the trader said he was about five months old and called Olip. The slow loris had been placed in a laundry basket of clothes but, when the team went to rescue him, they found him under a table, hiding behind a toy piano.

The owner had no idea how to take care of a slow loris, so thankfully had decided to hand him over to IAR. Apparently he had injured his left thigh, although a student who was present when he was rescued said the little animal already had the wound when he was bought from the market.

At least now Olip will receive the specialist care and food he needs and IAR’s vets can tend to his wound.

29 July 2010

Passa, the greater slow loris: from Sumatra to Java

Five years ago Mrs Yayat came to Pulau Bengkalis, Riau, Sumatra to follow the transmigration programme. Every once in a while she came back to her hometown in Pasar Sabtu Desa Situ Udik Kecamatan Cibungbulang Bogor, Java.

One time she came back from Sumatra bringing a baby animal. It was the baby of a slow loris. As she was not staying in Java for long, the baby was then reared by her cousin. News of this baby eventually reached IAR. So on 29 May 2010 the rescue team from IAR Indonesia came to the house of Mrs Yayat's cousin.

The baby was being kept inside a small wooden box in the kitchen. For food, the owner was giving it only cucumber and banana. Because of the lack of knowledge about the nocturnal behaviour of the slow loris, the owner took it out of the box every morning.

The baby was a male greater slow loris. He had been named Passa. When the rescue team arrived Passa looked unhealthy and stressed (he is aggressive). He didn't respond even when the rescue team gave him insects.

Mrs Yayah and her cousin had no idea that the animal they were taking care of was a slow loris, they thought it was a cuscus. Also they did not know that the slow loris is a protected animal and not a pet.

At the moment Passa is in the quarantine cage at IAR's Rehabilitation Centre in Indonesia, Ciapus.

It is high time people were aware of the slow loris and realised that they are animals protected by the law.

IAR Indonesia has the biggest slow loris rehabilitation centre. Right now we are about to release four slow lorises into Batutegi Lampung, Sumatra.

Let's hope that one day Passa will also live free again in the wild.

22 July 2010

Vet student reports on her internship experience in Indonesia

I am a last year veterinary student from Norway, and for the last three months I have volunteered at the veterinary clinic at IAR's rescue and rehabilitation centre in Ciapus, Indonesia as part of my last year medical training.

In advance I was correctly informed that this is not a clinic with state of the art, high technological equipment (although they have endoscopic equipment, x-ray machine and an inhalation anesthesia machine) or surgical activity around the clock. What intrigued me to come was to learn more about preventive and treatment medicine for primates as well as their rehabilitation and release. The centre cares for the Slow Loris (Javanese and Sumatran) and Long Tailed and Pig Tailed Macaque.

My days in the clinic consisted of helping out with the treatments of the animals in the clinic in the morning, in the afternoons we had surgeries or worked on treatment plans for some of the more chronic patients. The surgeries were often dental surgeries on the Loris, necessary because poachers cruelly clip their teeth of before trying to sell them. Another interesting procedure was the endoscopic sterilization of the female Macaques; minimal invasive and very effective. I also spent some time doing observations of the animals in the cages, especially individuals that were due to be released. During my stay I was fortunate enough to participate on a release, 12 Long Tailed Macaques and 4 Sumatran Slow Lorises were released in a protected forest area in Lampung, Sumatra. It was incredible to accompany the animals on their way back out into the wild, and very educational to follow the organization process that leads up to the release itself.

Silje and PaoloFor a 10 day period I visited IAR's Orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre in Kalimantan. It was my first encounter with Orangutans and they are truly fascinating. The centre had at the time I was there seven babies and eight adult individuals, held in separate locations. I stayed mostly in the baby school, helping the Indonesian animal carers keeping the small ones active and safe and assisting the veterinarians. The veterinary work consisted of critical care for an orphaned four month old baby, wound management and preventive measurements to prevent infections of the gastro intestinal tract. I've learned a lot about the troubles and challenges of a young rescue centre and the importance of preventive and natural medicine when working with primates.

It has been a wonderful three months, in most part accredited to the fascinating primates and all the great people that made me feel like a part of the centre.

Silje Robertsen,
Vet Student from Norway

28 June 2010

Huta finds three's company in Ketapang

Volunteer Paloma updates us on Huta's new living arrangements at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Mona, Huta and Nicky the rescued orangutansHuta, the orangutan who was rescued in March, has been placed in a cage with Mona and Nicky, two orangutans of similar age. They all seem to be getting on well, particularly Huta and Mona, who will often play together, chasing each other, laughing and hugging. Thankfully their play isn't as rough as Jojo and Jingo's!

Nicky and Huta also get on, although Nicky has assumed a more dominant role, and often takes Huta's food. To make sure Huta gets her fair share, we try to feed them separately and make sure each gets enough. If things between them get too serious, Mona always steps in, playing the big sister role.

A similar thing has happened with enrichment, with Nicky, and sometimes Mona, trying to take Huta's share of the enrichment we give them all. Again, IAR keepers always put extra enrichment in the cage, to make sure Huta isn't left out.

Despite these small problems, all three orangutans seem to love being together, and Huta is clearly much happier having some sisterly company!

21 June 2010

Some of our primates start the journey back to freedom

Nicky, our centre manager in Ciapus, updates us on the latest release of macaques and slow lorises.

The team set off for Lampung, Sumatra yesterday with a group of 12 macaques and four slow lorises. The 12 pig-tailed macaques were supposed to have been released last year but the paperwork has taken ages.

Macaque being prepared for releaseThe pre-survey team left for Lampung on 6 June to prepare the habituation cages and, when they let us know that they were almost ready, we started our preparations.

On Wednesday 16 June we started catching the animals at 1400 hrs. They were all weighed and microchipped and blood samples were taken from them. Then in the evening the team set off, arriving in Lampung the next morning for the last stretch of the journey by boat and then on foot.

At the release site the macaques will spend several days in the habituation cage getting used to their surroundings before they are released. Then they will be monitored for about three weeks to make sure they are getting on ok.

News has already come in that they all arrived safely and are already settling in to their new surroundings. So far, so good...!

1 June 2010

Helen is much happier and healthier in her new home

Volunteer Paloma updates us on Helen the rescued orangutan's progress at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Helen and her hammock nestWith the arrival of the new units in February at the International Animal Rescue emergency centre, Helen, Jera and Yola were moved from their small enclosures to the bigger ones. Despite still being confined, the extra space and environmental enrichment has seen Helen much more active, and she has begun to build nests with the leaves we give to the orangutans twice a day, just as she would in the wild. She definitely loves the leaves!

Helen and her floor nestIn the beginning, Helen started to make her nest just in a corner, then she changed and started to make it in her big hammock, and right now she normally likes to make it in the deep corner of the cage, where she can have interactions with her neighbouring orangutans. She spends a lot of time interacting through the bars with them, and they normally try to steal from each other or pass things to each other, such as the sacks or the leaves. She also likes to play with the enrichment provided, and it is great to see her swinging, swaying and twirling, either by her hands or feet, and behaving like a young orangutan in the wild!

Although it has not been possible to release her yet, Helen's wellbeing has improved a lot since she moved to the bigger enclosure and she looks so much happier and healthier too.

21 May 2010

JoJo makes a meal of his friendship with Jingo!

Volunteer Paloma updates us on how JoJo and Jingo are getting on at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

JoJo and JingoSince arriving at the emergency rescue centre in November, JoJo has struck up a firm friendship with Jingo. Since they were always playing with each other through the cage bars, it was decided that they should share an enclosure together.

When we opened the door between the cages, Jingo went straight to JoJo and they started to play together, hugging each other and generally being very boisterous! It was great to see how happy they were to be together and how much fun they were having. However, after about two days, we started to notice that JoJo, who is almost twice the size of Jingo, was starting to steal his food, like a cheeky little kid! So unfortunately, we had to separate them again, as Jingo will start losing weight if he doesn't get enough food. Right now they are in separate cages, but they still play together through the bars and we often open the door between cages after feedings so they can still play and have fun.

JoJoAlthough JoJo is a healthy orangutan, last month he came down with pneumonia. Thankfully he recovered well after being treated by IAR's medical team. We don't know, but we suspect the poor diet JoJo was given after he was taken from the forest and kept as a pet has affected his immune system, making him more susceptible to diseases. We hope the vitamin rich diet JoJo gets at the centre will rectify this!

He has also lost quite a lot of hair recently and IAR medical staff believe this is because of the implementation of a new diet, which has seen him shed the weak hair he has had, hopefully to be replaced by much thicker hair. Even with the thin, weak hair, JoJo is so handsome, we can't wait to see how fantastic he will look with his new thicker coat!

17 May 2010

New playground builds up the strength and confidence of our infant orangutans

Volunteer Paloma updates us on the new playground for the rescued infant orangutans at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Bunga and Monti in the new playgroundIn February, the babies and the infant orangutans at the International Animal Rescue centre were moved to a new, bigger facility just down the road. At this facility we have set up a new infant/baby school, creating a playground area where the orangutans can play in the trees, which have been connected to each other by ropes, ladders, hammocks, tyres and platforms, which the orangutans love climbing on. It has been very heartwarming to see infant orangutans grow in confidence and strength, as they become used to using all four of their limbs and climbing high up in the trees.

Melkyand Sindi enjoying the new playgroundEvery day, different enrichment is placed in the trees, to encourage them to forage and to stimulate their curiosity. Their food is also placed in the trees and on raised platforms, encouraging them to look for it themselves, off the ground, where they can catch parasites. All these things encourage natural wild behaviour!

Although the play area is not huge, it is a lot bigger than the play area they had before, and all the orangutans are making great progress.

We can't wait to see how much they will improve in the new rehabilitation centre, when all the money is raised and it is finally built!

5 May 2010

Baby Monti makes amazing progress

Volunteer Paloma updates us on the progress of Monti, a rescued infant orangutan at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

MontiMonti, the smallest baby orangutan at the International Animal Rescue centre, has grown a lot since the moment she arrived in November, at the age of just 5 months.
She is making very good progress, her teeth are growing and she can eat some bananas and some easy fruit to chew. Her hair is growing too, getting very long and with an intensive colour.

Right now she is very active and independent, even at her young age. Normally we used to leave her to play in the lowest branches of the tree but quickly she begins to investigate and go further up. Sometimes you cannot see her and the only thing you see are the leaves moving on the top of the tree!

MontiShe has very good coordination for her age and there aren't any hard ways for Monti, she always finds a way to go to the place she wants. Sometimes, when I am close to another tree, she finds the way to get where I am, using the connections between the trees we made with the ropes, and if another baby or infant orangutan is in her way she is very brave and tries to bite them or push them away - even Melky the biggest of the infants!

It is as though, just from a couple of months ago until now she is getting a very strong personality, and she is making amazingly good progress for her age undoubtedly!

We will keep telling you about the progress of this brave baby orangutan who is growing healthy and strong in the International Animal Rescue orangutan baby school.

14 April 2010

Meet Huta

Volunteer Paloma introduces Huta, a rescued orangutan at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

HutaHuta is a female of about 6 or 7 years old, She was rescued in March from a place very close to the IAR centre called the Hutan Kota (City Forest) from which she got her name. This place is an enclosed forest very close to Ketapang and is one of the top tourist attractions in the area. It is easy to access and has the appearance of a large forest. However, it is not a suitable place for a wild orangutan because the trees do not provide enough food. Also, a great many tourists visit it, many of whom gave Huta human food in an effort to get close to her, which was a serious disease risk for her.

Because of this International Animal Rescue felt they had no choice but to rescue Huta and take her to the centre in Ketapang. She had been sighted a few months before but disappeared before we could rescue her. We suspect that she was taken by a local and kept as a pet then later released back into the Hutan Kota after the "owner" realised how difficult and expensive she would be to keep at home. We assume too that she was kept with people before she was taken to the Hutan Kota, possibly since she was just a baby. She is very tame and, having lacked the company of her own kind, displays behaviours similar to those of humans whom she has copied.

Huta playingSince arriving at the IAR facility in Ketapang Huta has put on weight and is clearly healthier. She is very clever, almost like Mona, and she knows to use tools like sticks to get food or to steal food from her neighbours Jojo and Jingo. She loves to play on her own with the sacks and the enrichments we provide. She also used to play with Helen, who was moved to the new bigger cages close to her, passing things through the cage and really having fun.

We hope that in the not too distant future Huta will be rehabilitated and one day have the opportunity to live a natural life in the wild again.

7 April 2010

Meet Sindi

Volunteer Paloma introduces Sindi, a rescued infant orangutan at International Animal Rescue's emergency centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Sindi enjoying a papaya fruitSindi is a female, around 3 years old, who was rescued on 21 February from a family about 5 hours drive from Ketapang. This family said they had had her for one year. She was in a little cage when Karmele and the team went to rescue her and the family said that they normally took her out of the cage to play in the garden of the house. However, when the team tried to open the cage, it was very difficult and when they finally managed to open it, Sindi didn't know how to hold Karmele. It is likely that she had been in the cage for a long time.

Sindi had to spend a month in quarantine, until the results of all the tests were available, and after that period she went to meet her new family in the baby school, meeting other baby orangutans for the first time.

Sindi and BungaShe and fellow female Bunga instantly became friends, and seem to be having a great time, playing together!

Sindi is a very independent orangutan, and often loves to be in the trees of the nursery alone, very high up, observing everything, but like all infant orangutans, she also loves playing and climbing with the other orangutans, and it's great to see that she, Melky, Bunga, Sigit and Monti have become such good friends, and Sindi looks really happy with them!