In the heart of Central Kalimantan’s Salat Island cluster, we catch up with everybody’s darling, Big Boy Beni. Since 2019, the ‘Orangutan Jungle School’ superstar has lived on Badak Besar Pre-Release Island, where he endures a ritual from his unforgettable forest school days. 

For Beni and the other island residents on Badak Besar Island, each day starts with hanging out by the canal’s edge, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the technicians’ boat that will deliver their daily dose of nourishment – fruits and vegetables thoughtfully combined to meet the dietary needs of adult orangutans.

On this particular day, Beni shares the canal’s lush banks with Kejora. The two are munching on the fresh grass that lines the fringes of the waterway. As the distinct sound of the boat echoes in the distance, they spring into action.

Bonkers for Bananas
Beni, of course, anticipates that bananas are on the menu today. However, the technicians first lower cassava leaves to ensure the orangutans consume some roughage before indulging in the fruits, lest they disregard the vitamin-rich greens. Beni and Kejora oblige, nibbling on the leaves before the bananas descend. But, as soon as the bunches touch down, Beni quickly abandons his cassava leaves in favour of his favourite sweet fruit.

On this scorching day, with the temperature soaring to 34 degrees Celsius, Beni has a unique way of beating the heat. As the boat gradually fades into the distance, Beni takes a refreshing plunge into the water, reviving a beloved habit from his Forest School days – taking mud baths! 

This delightful and familiar ritual was his absolute favourite pastime back then, a practice that has become an inseparable part of his identity. This remnant of his student adventures is a testament to his remarkable adaptability to this island environment, mirroring the skills he honed in Forest School.

Nothing new on the island: Beni always was and always will be – a banana boy.

Mud Magic
Bathing in water or mud has many benefits for orangutans. In addition to cooling their bodies, being in water often means they will scoop it up to drink or lick it from their hair – either way, it helps keep them adequately hydrated. Mud baths also cover the skin in sludge that acts as a natural bug repellent.

Male orangutans are known for their wanderlust, and Beni is a dedicated explorer on the more than 2,000-hectare island. His once-bulky frame – hence the nickname Big Boy Beni – has now transformed into a well-proportioned physique. Medical assessments and our animal welfare team have recorded his current Body Score at 3, indicating ideal health.

In terms of skills, Beni has displayed incredible progress during his pre-release phase. This stage precedes actual reintroduction into the wild. It relies heavily on the keen observations made by our team of technicians. 

While Beni’s scores may fluctuate, as is typical, he consistently demonstrates outstanding abilities, making him one of our star pupils on the path to release.

Beni is back in the mud, like in his good old forest school days.

Wild Boy
Despite still benefiting from the supplementary food our technicians provide, Beni is skilled and diligent in foraging for his own. Accustomed to the natural resources of Badak Besar Island, he often consumes figs and wild guavas and even snacks on grass, wood fibre, and termites as alternative sources of protein. This showcases Beni’s remarkable intelligence and adaptability as he navigates life in habitats that closely resemble the wild.

Way to go, Beni! We can’t wait to bring you home.

How Can You Help

There are lots of ways you can support orangutans and help ensure the survival of this precious ape.

Adopt an Orangutan

Adopt an Orangutan

Orangutans are endangered and at risk of extinction. Habitat destruction results in hundreds of orphaned orangutans, who rely on our care every year. You can help by adopting one. Their dedicated ‘nannies’ teach them everything they need to know for when it’s time to release them back to the wild. You can follow their progress through Forest School.

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Make a Donation

Please help the Orangutans in their struggle for survival. Your donation is important and goes directly to BOS Indonesia. By donating, you are helping bring this noble yet endangered species back from the brink of extinction and on a path to freedom - from rescue to rehabilitation and release.

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The perfect gift for any occasion! Choose from our selection of instant gifts that directly support our orangutans. You can buy a wheelbarrow, provide food for an orangutan for two months or lots more. You will receive a certificate, personalised with the name of your choice - perfect gift for you or a friend.

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