After trekking and the outdoor nursery it was time for my third rotation which was in the indoor nursery with the smallest babies that they have here at Sepilok (squeeeelll!!!)
The indoor nursery is currently home to Alagu, Koko, Ospie, Musa, Unico, Peanut, Goman, Sepilok and Archie – 9 babies which are all between 2 and 4 years old. They have usually been found by palm oil plantation owners, a few of them have been kept illegally as pets. I was lucky enough to be spending 6 days looking after these guys and I couldn’t wait!
On our very first day we had to weigh all the babies, all the orangutans at Sepilok have regular check ups including weigh ins and temperature checks. Orangutans share 96.4% of the same DNA as us and can fall ill just as easily as we can. We had to carry the babies out and put them in a little basket on the scales – here is a video from the center that shows how we weigh the babies! (not my video!)
Once the babies have had their breakfast and milk we take them outside while we clean their room, when we’ve finished cleaning it’s time for them to have their climbing practice! There are ropes outside the nursery that go into the trees and the babies are encouraged to climb and interact with each other in the trees. In the wild babies of their age would be close to the mother, they would be taught to stay away from the ground as to avoid predators, so we have to teach them the same! Below is video of Peanut that was filmed at the centre about a year ago, Peanut it now one of the best climbers and should soon be moving up to the outdoor nursery with the older orangutans!
It’s so cute to watch them climbing through the trees, they are so small but yet can climb so high! They play with one another and interact with the older semi wild orangutans too. It’s so lovely to see all ages coming together to play and to see how gentle they are with one another.
I absolutely loved my time with the babies, it was great to work up close with them and care for them. Watching them climb up high in the trees is amazing to see. When you’re feeding them their milk it melts your heart! They look at you so intently and it’s incredible! It’s amazing seeing the babies thrive and hearing the stories from the rangers about how the babies came here and how in most cases they’ve had to be nursed back to health with around the clock care. The bond between the orangutans and the rangers is so special to see and I feel so lucky to be able to help these little guys on their journey back to the wild.