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Prepare to go awwww; RESERVE ALLOWS RESCUED APES TO LIVE AS NATURE INTENDED; Baby orangutans were saved after hunters hacked their mothers to death.

Byline: Allan Hall

Meet the orphaned orangutans of Borneo being wheeled to happiness.

Every one saw their mother killed by hunters and, traumatised and alone, the babies were scooped up to become fashionable pets.

Chained and starved, malnourished and prone to disease, they were wasting away in shacks and sheds, poked at by schoolchildren with sticks or burned with cigarettes.

All would have died young or gone insane if charity International Animal Rescue had not come to their aid.

They have a new rescue centre on 64 acres of land at Sungai Awan in Indonesian Borneo and the doors have opened for business.

Karmele Llano Sanchez, executive director and chief vet at the centre, said: "There are 30 babies, orphaned when the forest was cut down to make palm oil plantations and their mothers were brutally killed. Some still have machete wounds. But they are out of harm's way now."

Highly intelligent, extremely sensitive, the care needed to prepare these babies for a life in the wild is intense and heartwarming.

Although their physical wounds heal, the mental ravages of witnessing the deaths of their mothers run deep.

The babies include Rickina – a tiny young female orangutan of about one year old, bearing the scar of a machete wound on her forehead, almost certainly telling the story of how her mother was hacked down and killed when her baby was taken from her.

Rickina is underweight and small for her age. After a day climbing and playing in the forest she is brought in for supplementary bottle feeding to build her up and sleeps indoors overnight, in a nappy to keep her clear of infection.

She cuddles up to a large soft toy to give her the comfort and warmth she no longer has from her mother.

Rocky is even smaller than Rickina and her great friend. They play together and cling tightly to each other in moments of stress.

Gunung and Noel have grown a little bigger and bolder now, venturing higher in the trees during their days in the forest, but still coming to their babysitters for regular comfort and reassurance.

Melky and Momo – are two of the larger infants who staff say love to play. They are under observation to see whether they are practising nest building in the forest enclosure – a sign they are using the skills they need if they are to fend for themselves.

In the reserve, the orangutans can live as nature intended them to, swinging through trees, playing with one another, foraging, sleeping and interacting – all without fear of intimidation, stress and brutality. They are wheelbarrowed in each morning for a hard day of doing just what they want – and wheelbarrowed out again each evening to sleep in special cages where no harm can come to them.

The wheelbarrows means they do not have to walk any great distance. Orangutans spend 90 per cent of their time in trees.

They are not designed to walk and they don't much like it. Their feet are like their hands, able to hold food and help them climb. On the ground they are awkward and uncomfortable.

Special babysitter squads of local vounteers keep an eye on them 24 hours a day.

Alan Knight OBE, chief executive of International Animal Rescue, said: "For every baby orangutan at the centre, a mother orangutan has died, not to mention all the males that must also have been killed.

For more about the orangutans visit

"For every baby orangutan at the centre, a mother orangutan died – not to mention males that were killed


GROUP HUG Orangutans enjoying a cuddle

WALKIES Babies out on stroll Allan Hall

WHEELED IN Orangutans are built to live in trees and find it hard to walk so babies are transported to the rescue centre in wheelbarrows by staff and volunteers
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Apr 7, 2013
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