It was just after midnight on 9 August when the wildlife rescue team from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in East Kalimantan arrived at our Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. In their truck was a cat cage, and inside a tiny male orangutan.
The team had just rescued the baby, and our staff members, waiting at the gate for the important arrival, immediately removed the sleeping infant from the cage.
According to the rescue team, villagers had found the male about 200 kilometres away from our Samboja Lestari centre. When the rescue team met with the resident who made the initial report, he told them that his neighbours found the orangutan alone in the forest without its mother. The man said he knew it was illegal to keep orangutans captive, so he immediately contacted the local authority and fire department.
The villager kept the baby for one night at his house in the cat cage. His wife ended up having to hold the orangutan to calm him down, and he would hardly eat or drink any of the offered bananas and milk.
After being handed over to our Samboja Lestari team, a surrogate mother immediately took the new arrival to the nursery. He reportedly grabbed hold of her and tightly clung to her.
At the nursery, the BOS veterinarian in charge conducted an initial health examination and gave milk to the baby. Judging from the molars, the veterinarian estimated him to be around seven months old.
The preliminary examination further revealed that the infant was too thin for his age, weighing only 2.7 kilograms and that he showed signs he was suffering from an umbilical hernia. Luckily, he had no injuries. The BOS medical team placed the new arrival in quarantine, and the COVID-19 test conducted a few days later returned negative.
Now, a few weeks after his rescue, the surrogate mothers have reported that the baby orangutan is in good health and actively plays, especially with the plush doll in his basket. He seems to enjoy cleanliness, as evident from his habit of always getting out of his basket when he wants to urinate or defecate. Our staff members who take care of him also gave him a name: Galaksi, the Indonesian word for ‘Galaxy’.
Once out of quarantine, Galaksi’s long journey to freedom will begin in Nursery Group, followed by Forest School. There he will learn all the necessary survival skills so that, hopefully, one day, we can release him back into his wild home in the Bornean rainforest.
We are very optimistic about little Galaksi’s future!
If you would like to support Galaksi on his journey to freedom, please click here.