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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Orangutan that was kept chained in a small wooden box takes next steps to freedom in the forest

An orangutan that was kept in chains in a dark wooden crate is moving closer to freedom in the forest, as the latest video and photos of her reveal.

Images released today show one of our rescued orangutans, Amy, walking with her keeper to a new forested enclosure within our Orangutan Conservation Centre in Ketapang, West Borneo.



Amy is one of 20 orangutans to have recently been moved from one island enclosure to a new, larger area of forest where they will have more space to perfect the skills they need to survive in the wild. The new island, aptly called Pulau Besar, or ‘Big Island’, has been created on 64 acres of forest which we were able to purchase after our ‘Forest Fund’ appeal.

As the images show, access to Pulau Besar involves crossing a moat using a drawbridge ladder. When not in use, the drawbridge goes up automatically, preventing the orangutans, who are not fond of water, from leaving the island.

At first some of the apes are reluctant to walk on the drawbridge, being naturally more adept at climbing and swinging in the trees than travelling on foot. Amy walks slowly and rather gingerly, clinging to the hand of her keeper until she is safely across. Heartwarmingly, as she arrives in her new home, another orangutan comes down from a tree to greet her with a hug.

Once safely on the new land, the orangutans immediately take to the trees and start exploring their new home.

Our Chief Executive, Alan Knight, said: “After the terrible mistreatment and neglect Amy suffered while she was chained up in a small, dark crate, it is incredibly poignant to watch her walking so trustingly beside her keeper and following him carefully across the metal drawbridge to her new home.

“It takes years for an orangutan like Amy to develop all the skills she will need to survive in the wild. Young orangutans stay with their mothers until they 

are six or seven years old and it takes just as long for the orangutans in our care to master the art of climbing and moving through the trees, not to mention nestbuilding, foraging for food and avoiding predators.

“Thanks to the generosity of the public, we were recently able to purchase an area of forest adjacent to our centre and create Pulau Besar. This large island provides the perfect training ground for Amy and her friends and we are all thrilled to see them exploring and enjoying their new home.”

Also among the group of orangutans that have moved to Pulau Besar is Dio, a male orangutan rescued by us in 2014. Three year old Dio was kept chained up by a man who claimed to have bought him from a group of hunters after they shot his mother. Dio had a bullet lodged behind his left eye, probably from the same weapon that killed her.

In spite of his partial vision, Dio is thriving on the new island and shows no sign that his disability is holding him back.

Alan concludes: “With more than 100 rescued orangutans in rehabilitation at our centre, we need all the space we can get. The new island is making a huge difference to Amy, Dio and the rest of the group. And in a broader context, it serves as a reminder to us all of the vital need to protect as much precious forest as possible if the orangutan is to stand any chance of survival.”