Rehabilitation and recovery for Borneo’s orangutans

Orangutans learn survival skills, such as climbing, through play

New arrivals at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s rehabilitation centers may have been injured in machete attacks, rescued from the pet trade or found starving. All are in need of the physical and emotional care delivered by dedicated center staff, in preparation for independent forest futures.

The Foundation is currently caring for approximately 1,000 traumatized apes. Their work is a race against time – only 30,000 orangutans are left in Borneo’s vanishing rainforests. You can help us keep the rehabilitation centers open and able to return recovered orangutans to the wild.

Step one: Medical care and assessment

On arrival, orangutans may be malnourished or injured. During a quarantine stage newcomers are treated by vets, vaccinated, checked for parasites, screened for malaria and tested for hepatitis A, B and C and tuberculosis – diseases they catch from humans.

Step two: Socialization begins

As they regain their health, adult orangutans move into large socialization cages. Here, they can be peacefully introduced to other orangutans of a similar age and size. Very young orangutans will live in a nursery, cared for by trained staff who offer emotional comfort and introduce the small apes to their peers.

Step three: Healing and learning

It is estimated that just 30,000 orangutans are left in Borneo

In the second stage of socialization, the orangutans are introduced to the food sources available in the local forest. Many apes used as pets will never have eaten a natural diet and are badly in need of the nourishment it provides.

The Foundation’s staff also teach the orangutans survival skills – finding food, climbing and building nests. This intensive process can take years; each ape progresses at a different pace depending on age, health and personality.

Kesi – one of the orangutans we met during our 2007 appeal – needed extra help with her climbing skills, having lost a hand in the machete attack that killed her mother. Her amazing progress proves that with the right care, horrific experiences can be overcome. Read more about Kesi >>

For the recovered, independent lives

While orangutans with severe injuries or diseases will remain in the safety of the sanctuary, those that flourish during rehabilitation will be set free in small groups that work together to find food and build nests.

The BOS Foundation identifies secure areas of rainforest where the groups can be released safely and monitored by the organization. The rehabilitated orangutans help maintain the diversity of the species so new, fit populations can develop.

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