Rise of the planet of the Orang Utans

i mean seriously, why would i pay to watch a bunch of CGI apes, or worse still, grown adult men prancing about in ape suits? and from what i hear, these ape disguised men are smarter than us underwear wearing people. no RC, i am not going to go watch this in the cine this summer no matter how awesome you think this idea is.

instead, let me show you real beauties. a coupla weeks ago, a bunch of us got on a bus and went to semenggoh wildlife sanctuary and matang forest reserve for the sarawak forestry heart2heart orang utan program. yes yes, you’re read semenggoh here some time ago but well, that’s just it, it was some time ago. itu lain, sekarang lain. duh.

the story is like that, failing to get casted into that stupid planet of the apes movie, some inconsiderate so-called human beings think it is a helluva cool idea to keep baby orang utan as pets. its like having an extremely hairy baby. well, the thing about babies is that they grow. duh! and with the exception of us very few exceptional creatures, the bigger they grow, the heavier they get and frankly, the uglier they get.

so the six million rupiah question is, how do you get rid of an ugly, hairy, orang utan? well some geniuses thought that they would be very clever and release they into the wild. the thing is, these orang utans have been raised in captivity and have been completely domesticated. kalau korang buang baby dalam hutan, how the hell do you expect it to find food and build shelter. on that note, i know lots of people yang memang dah besar panjang who would still have a problem not dying if i randomly drop them in a hutan.

in a nutshell, that is the background to how the heart2heart program came about, to help these orang utans to relearn survival skills and rehabilitate them back into the life in the wild. semenggoh is like the high school of the program. these orang utans dah boleh live out in the open. some of them still come back for assisted feeding, but they already build their own nests in the trees.

but i wanted to know how the real rehab work is done. and for this, we go to matang. our first brief is at the visitor center and while walking around the center, reading up about the vegetation of the forest reserve, we come across a bookshelf of momentos and see… what the –?

and a close up of the message:

oh-kay.

as part of the program, we joined in the food prep for the orang utans. basically, in pairs, we were given a bunch of fruit to chop to bits and stuff into a bottle.

say hi to jill. she’s the chopper. i’m the stuffer.

the thing about stuffing fruit in the bottle is to stimulate the orang utan’s creativity in trying to get to the food. obviously, they will not be able to twist bottle caps. no darlings, the one that can twist bottle caps and open electronic safe guarded doors are dinosaurs. duh. so the orang utans would study the construction of the bottle etc before figuring out where to best rip the bottle apart.

that yellow stuff in the bottle is essence of durian. i know. yuck yuck yuck. tapi orang utan suka. the bau is so damn strong. yea, the orang utan suka that also.

we were all assigned orang utans. meet ting san. our orang utan. characteristic: anti-social wimp. seriously. this little guy is so traumatised by his experience, that he gets picked on even by other orang utans. so kesian. kena bully. i went around scolding all the other orang utans for bullying ting san.

in actuality, who i should be scolding are the dumb human beings who thought is was funny to have an orang utan pet.

we did not get to see ting san rip the bottle that day because of the rain. but we left strict instructions to the keeper about taking care of him.

the future of ting san. yea, i wonder that too. according to the sarawak forestry, there is no guarantee that all orang utans they receive will ever be completely rehabilitated and reintroduced into the wild. yes, there are quite a few success cases. but there are also some who cannot be thought the essential skills to be returned to the forest.

that’s arman. he’s obviously a fully grown orang utan, but yes, he’s at the center. the keepers say that it’ll be really hard for arman to relearn things and although he’s making great progress, he still has fears and the tendency of getting injured if they release him into the wild.

people who think that it is cute or funny or exotic to keep wild animals as pet really need to think of the consequences of what they’re doing and i do mean, in the long term. these animals might be fun as babies, but they can grow and some have aggressive tendencies. the bottom line is, they don’t belong in your house. seriously. they belong with their families in their wild. to rob them of some of their most vital learning years is just plain unfair.

go find out more about the program!

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