International Animal Rescue marks World Animal Day with a celebration of our Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Project
To mark World Animal Day this year, we’re celebrating the wonderful work of our team in West Borneo rescuing orangutans and preparing them for release back into the wild. And we’re using baby orangutan Rickina to illustrate it!
Spanish volunteer Alejo Sabugo filmed a delightful short video of Rickina at our orangutan rescue centre in Borneo. She has a machete wound on her head which she probably sustained while clinging to her mother when she was attacked and killed. Thankfully little Rickina survived and her wound has now healed. The machete wound on baby orangutan Rickina's head
The film shows how vulnerable baby orangutans are during the first months of their lives. These tiny babies would normally spend their days in the forest clinging tightly to their mothers, relying on them for food and protection. And so when orphaned babies first arrive at our rescue centre they are looked after by a team of babysitters. These dedicated local men and women provide the traumatised orphans with round-the-clock comfort and care. They wear face masks at all times to protect the babies from the human germs and diseases which could kill any orangutan, young or old.
While they are very small the baby orangutans also wear nappies to keep them free from infection. But once they are strong and healthy enough to join the older infants out in the forest the nappies come off and they start to learn how to live like a wild orangutan.
The video shows Rickina during her first days at the rescue centre when she is as helpless and defenceless as a human baby. But after only a few weeks she is strong enough to be taken to “baby school” in the forest and meet some of the other young orangutans. The video of Rickina experiencing the outside world and learning to hang on the climbing frame is enchanting. She has an expression of complete wonder and surprise on her face as she dangles on the wooden structure. Her babysitter is constantly by her side to support and steady her. Rickina's face is a picture!
The footage of Rickina as she starts to learn the ropes is far more than just another cute baby orangutan video – though it’s certainly that! But it also demonstrates the hours of patient coaching and care the orangutans are given to start them on their long journey to freedom. Day after day they are taken to the forest to build up their strength and develop the skills they will need to survive in the wild.
This is just the beginning for Rickina and her friends but it is a vital start to years of skilled preparation towards the day when they are released. Without the team in Borneo, these baby orangutans wouldn’t stand a chance. But thanks to International Animal Rescue – and thanks to everyone who supports us – the future is bright for Rickina and her friends.
Happy World Animal Day everyone!