Baby orangutan rescued after being kept as a pet

February 23, 2017
Seven-month-old Vena was rescued by wildlife officals and environmentalists from someone who had illegally kept her as a pet

Baby primate Vena shyly turned her head away from a bottle as two vets tried to feed her, the latest Bornean orangutan rescued in Indonesia after being kept as a pet.

Villagers on the Indonesian part of jungle-clad Borneo island often keep the critically endangered apes as pets even though the practice is illegal.

Wildlife officials and environmentalists rescued seven-month-old Vena earlier in February from someone in Kendawangan district who had been looking after her.

Vena is now being cared for at a centre run by NGO International Animal Rescue (IAR), whose staff ensure she stays clean by regularly changing her diapers and feed her bottles of milk mixed with .

Last year IAR saved 22 orangutans that were either kept as pets or whose natural jungle habitat had been destroyed by huge forest fires started to clear land for plantations.

Even when they are well looked after, such as in Vena's case, environmentalists stress keeping orangutans as pets is bad because it means they will later struggle to survive in the wild.

"Many people don't realise that keeping orangutans as pets is illegal and could make them lose their instincts for living in the wild," said Ruswanto, an official from the wildlife protection agency who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Villagers on the Indonesian part of jungle-clad Borneo island often keep orangutans as pets even though the practice is illegal

Vena was being kept as a pet by a lady called Bariah, who found the ape in a neighbouring village. She was rescued after villagers reported the case to authorities.

It was the second time Bariah, a mother of seven, was caught illegally caring for a baby ape—she already had to give one up to IAR in 2016.

"I know are protected, I was not killing or harming them, I was only taking care of them," the 50-year-old told AFP.

After being rescued, young apes are sent to a "jungle school", where they spend years learning to fend for themselves before being released into the wild.

Environmentalists stress keeping orangutans as pets is bad because it means they will later struggle to survive in the wild

Rampant logging and the rapid expansion of paper and palm oil operations have reduced their habitat, with about 100,000 estimated to remain in the wild on Borneo, which is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature last year changed its classification of the Bornean orangutan from "endangered" to "critically endangered".

Explore further: Baby ape recovers after ordeal in Indonesia, finds new playmate

Related Stories

Jungle school helps rescued orangutans return to wild

August 31, 2016

Ignoring the shrieks of his rowdy, wrestling classmates, baby orangutan Otan practises swinging alone at his "jungle school" on Borneo island, switching hands and hanging upside down as he builds confidence high above the ...

Thailand returns rescued orangutans to Indonesia

November 12, 2015

A group of smuggled orangutans arrived in Indonesia from Thailand on Thursday, following years of diplomatic wrangling over who will care for them after the majority were discovered abandoned on a roadside.

Baby orangutans rescued in Thai police sting

December 24, 2016

Thai police rescued two baby orangutans in a sting operation after undercover officers arranged to buy the primates over a mobile phone messaging app from wildlife traffickers for nearly $20,000, officials said.

Malaysia tracks orangutans with implants

November 24, 2009

Malaysian wildlife authorities are using electronic implants to keep track of orangutans in a bid to protect the endangered apes after they are freed into the wild, an official said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

World's smallest tape recorder is built from microbes

November 23, 2017

Through a few clever molecular hacks, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have converted a natural bacterial immune system into a microscopic data recorder, laying the groundwork for a new class of technologies ...

A possible explanation for how germlines are rejuvenated

November 23, 2017

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of California and Calico Life Sciences, has discovered a possible explanation regarding how human germlines are rejuvenated. In their paper published in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.