We are at one of the few rescue centres in Indonesia.
    The sick and neglected orangutans end up here. They are nursed back to health and eventually they must learn to live independently in the rainforest.
    That's why a rescue centre is also called a "resocialisation station".

    How is that done?

    Life with people leaves a mark on many orangutans. They have forgotten they are apes and taken on human behaviour. They no longer understand orangutan language and think humans are their relatives. learn how to climbThey can't climb and they are often very weak as a result of illness and eating human food.

    The young orangutans are put in groups, where, under supervision, they learn to behave as orangutans again. Sometimes you see their carers biting on sticks and doing other strange things, as if they were orangutans. They climb trees and make other ape sounds and movements. That's not because they have spent too much time with apes, but because they want to give a good example to the young orangutans.

    Once the youngsters have regained some of their natural behaviour and learned to get along with others, they are put in areas where they have as little contact with people as possible.

    The have to learn that humans are actually their enemies and to run away when they see one. That is one of the most difficult tasks in a rescue centre and takes several months to achieve.

    Finally, feeding area in the forestthe young orangutans are released into a protected (and often, secret) forest area. To begin with, they are closely watched and food is regularly provided for them. After a few days, the apes curiously begin to explore their new surroundings and to find their own food.

    Initially, they regularly eat the food left for them, but, after a while, they prefer to eat in the trees. Fairly soon, they disappear into the forest and never return to the feeding area.

    Apes from the rescue centre disappear without trace into the dense forest, just like normal orangutans. The former "human children" quickly turn into the shy forest creatures we know from books. It appears they are, indeed, only at home in the forest.

    Happy end? But there is one more question to ask!

    Why should you teach orangutans to live in the forest again, when there is nearly no rainforest left???

    That is a very good question. Come on, let's go and look for a solution!
Back to the babys This way!
Back to the startpoint

© Meike Kunkel