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Monkey World News

GREAT APES: Orphan baby orangutans settling into new home

Wednesday 19 August 2015

GREAT APES: Orphan baby orangutans settling into new home

CHEEKY monkeys have settled in to a purpose-built playroom just in time for World Orang-utan Day.

As reported in the Echo, orphans Rieke and Bulu Mata are being looked after by specialist primate care staff at Monkey World. They will soon join their new adoptive orang-utan family at the park.

Baby girl Rieke arrived from Berlin Zoo in February having been rejected at birth by her mother. She joined her new adopted brother, Bulu Mata, who came from Budapest Zoo in December after his mother died unexpectedly.

The specially-designed nursery building has a gymnasium-sized playroom fitted out with climbing frames, hammocks, and ropes to encourage natural, arboreal orang-utan behaviour. Most importantly, there are six other orang-utans living there that include orphans from the UK, Spain, Taiwan, Hungary and South Africa – some of which were smuggled from the wild before being confiscated from the black market trade.

Staff had been feeding and caring for the babies around the clock, but they now spend every day in their new bespoke playroom, which has been built into the main orangutan nursery. When Rieke and Bulu Mata are strong enough to climb the huge main nursery playroom unaided, they will join the rest of the group, which includes two adult females, Hsiao-quai and Oshine, an adolescent male, Kai, and youngsters Jin, Silvestre and Awan. This is a great environment for them as it is essential that Rieke and Bulu Mata are able to live and grow up with other orang-utans in order to learn all the skills they need to survive, socialise, and hopefully one day start families of their own.

Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin said: “Bulu Mata and Rieke have made great progress since arriving at Monkey World. Both babies have put on weight, have been teething, and are now climbing, playing, and developing very strong muscles. This is really important as we are planning to introduce them to the rest of the orang-utans in our nursery group in the coming weeks.

"It is essential we know the babies are strong enough and coordinated enough to move about the huge nursery climbing frame on their own. Their safety is paramount but it is almost time for them to join the other orang-utans full time.

“For now, Bulu Mata and Rieke still go home with our primate care staff as their last feed is at 9pm. Bulu Mata now weighs 6.9kg and Rieke is 5kg.

"They are fed six times a day and are both taking soft fruit and baby rice in addition to their milk. Rieke is a particularly good eater and both babies seem to enjoy each other’s company.”

Today is World Orang-utan Day.

Monkey World is now home to three groups of orang-utans made up of 19 individuals of the two different species (Bornean and Sumatran). This is the largest group of orang-utans kept outside of Asia.

The main threat to the orang-utan in the wild is habitat loss due to the logging of primary forest for agricultural land and, in particular, the unsustainable palm oil industry. They are also used in the entertainment industry or as pets and, although this is illegal, it is a growing industry in South-East Asia.

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