Monday the 10th October was a Monday like no other! My group started the day by cleaning the quarantine room at the clinic, it’s been months since it’s been touched because Ceria and Kala (two naughty male orangutans at the centre) broke in and ripped all the lighting and fans out of the ceiling! We scrubbed all the cages, scrubbed the walls and bleached the floor. After a lick of paint and new lights the place looked as good as new! Ibrey, the lady who we work with in the clinic, was so happy that she could use the room again and was so thankful for our help, it really was so rewarding to be able to fix the room for her and the orangutans.
As we were leaving after our shift we were walking to the gate to leave the centre and we saw an orangutan standing with one of the cleaners, we didn’t recognise them and asked the cleaner who it was and if it was OK for us to walk passed them. “It’s Rosa, she’s OK”.
It’s always nice to see a new orangutan at the centre, there are so many semi wild ones that hang around on a daily basis that it’s nice to see a new face. We walked past Rosa and went back to our guesthouse to grab our cameras as we were going to pop to the sunbear sanctuary (which is a stones throw away from our house) in our lunchbreak.
As we walked into the entrance of the sunbear sanctuary we walked up the steps and infront was a tourist photographing an orangutan on the steps! It’s always a worry to see an orangutan outside the centre as there are tourists around that don’t respect the fact these are wild animals and will do anything for a good photo! (feeding them, cuddling them, calling them over – frustratingly those all happen! They’re not so happy when they get too close and get their phone/camera stolen by the orangutan!)
We soon realised it must be Rosa on the steps as she’d been hanging around the gate when we left work. We didn’t really know what to do when we saw her , we didn’t know what she was like with strangers as we’d never spent any time with her since being at the centre.
We called her name and she looked over at us and started walking towards us along the railings. We decided that if we could get her to follow us we would try and lead her back to the centre. The plan was working so far, we were calling her name and she was following along the railings (….this seems too easy, I thought to myself!)
Rosa continued along the railings until she stopped, looked over the edge and jumped down into the bushes below (I thought it had been too good to be true!) We watched her as she went off into the bush below us and pulled out a cup of coffee, half empty but complete with a straw! She took it in her hand and pulled herself back onto the railings where we were standing and decided to finish off the rest of the coffee! Although she shouldn’t have been drinking it (well done to the idiot that decided to throw their litter into the jungle – arghhh!) it was great to watch her do it!
The way she figured out how to get the coffee out, how she took out the straw, took off the lid and drank every last drop was so fascinating to watch, so human like!
One of the girls in my group decided to run back to the centre to see if they were happy with us bringing her back “erm…Rosa is up at the bear sanctuary drinking a latte!”
After she finished her coffee she was happy to follow us again. We had to get her past the tourists at the entrance to the bear sanctuary but this was fairly easy once I’d told them that she might try to steal their cameras, wallets, sunglasses or phones! She followed us all the way back to the centre, past the tourists and through the gates!
It was such a surreal moment having a wild orangutan following you along. I don’t know why she did so, we didn’t have anything with us that she might have wanted but I think it might have been because we knew her name and we had our work t-shirts on or many because we were new faces to her she was intrigued by us! It was so great just walking alongside her, with her glancing up at me everytime I called her name. Finally we reached the centre and we had done it – we got her back to the centre with us, her and the tourists all in one piece! We walked in through the gates, she looked at us then decided to go off and do her own thing and off she went! Mission accomplished!