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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

After years chained up alone in a small wooden crate, Amy the orangutan starts making friends

Amy, who was kept chained up in a small wooden crate, has met others of her own kind for the first time and is rapidly making friends.

She was freed by our team after they were alerted to her existence by local group Yaysan Palung. She was taken to our rehabilitation centre in Ketapang and placed in the quarantine unit while she underwent a series of health checks and her physical and mental condition was assessed.

Once her period in quarantine was over, Amy was moved to an outdoor cage where she could see other orangutans so that she could learn from their example and get used to the sights and sounds of the outside world. Amy adapted well to her new environment, proving to be a fast learner and readily accepting her new diet of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes when she was unsure about eating an unfamiliar food, she would look around first to see what the other orangutans were doing. Within a week Amy was completely settled in her new environment. The next step was to move her into a cage next door to another orangutan.

Heribertus Suciadi, a member of our Indonesian team, described how Amy reacted. He said: “Amy’s response was quite amazing. She was curious about her new neighbour and tried to reach through and touch her. She clearly wanted to play with her new friend. She enjoyed all the enrichment we gave her and ate everything she was offered. She loves not only banana, orange and papaya but also cassava, cucumber, pineapple, watermelon and many more!”

A few weeks later it was decided that Amy was ready to venture into the forest and meet other orangutans face to face.

Setrum Island was chosen as the most appropriate one for Amy. It is one of several artificial islands at the centre that are home to groups of orangutans undergoing rehabilitation. On Setrum Island the orangutans aren’t too big and their behaviour is not too wild for a newcomer like Amy to cope with. She is too big to be put on Monyet AB Island, so Setrum Island was the most suitable one for her.

Heribertus described Amy’s first day out: “The moving day was quite extraordinary. Amy doesn't like people to touch her and so she walked to Setrum Island unaided – but with the team there to guide her. She paused for a while to look around her and seemed fascinated by the trees. When she finally reached Setrum Island, Amy’s new friends were already waiting for her. They tried to smell her and some of them touched her inquisitively. Amy didn't mind at all: this was a new beginning for her and she was so happy to meet her new friends. She even started to climb a tree and slowly explore the forest. She seemed to have no problem moving around. She was just enjoying her new-found freedom out in the forest where she belongs.”

Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive, said: “It is so uplifting to see Amy socialising with others of her own kind after spending so long chained up and alone.  It’s a real testimony to her physical and mental resilience that she is adjusting so well to her new environment and taking so many new experiences in her stride.  The team will continue to monitor her progress in the weeks and months ahead and assess her chances of one day returning to her rightful home in the rainforest.”