When animals are left peacefully in the wild, they learn all of the basic skills needed to survive. Lions learn where to hunt for food, deer learn how to keep an eye out for predators, and orangutans learn how to climb trees and find nourishment among the branches. When animals are left in their natural habitat, they can easily learn how to survive thanks to their peers and family members who pass on their knowledge with love and care. It is only when animals are taken selfishly from their home or human intervention causes their home to be destroyed that this system starts to fall apart.

Take Boy, the orangutan, for instance. For the first three years of his life, Boy only knew humans. Found and deemed an orphan by workers on a palm oil plantation, Boy was brought home by one of the workers and kept as a pet.  Instead of being raised around others of his kind and learning to be an orangutan, he was raised like a human child, fed human food, and dressed in a diaper.

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Unsurprisingly, when Boy was confiscated by the Forestry Department and delivered to International Animal Rescue‘s (IAR) orangutan center, he lacked all of the basic skills you would expect of an orangutan. By treating him like an entirely different species, Boy’s owners had rendered him helpless in a natural environment. Thankfully, it is not the first time IAR has dealt with a case of this nature, and after a thorough checkup, they began the long but hopeful journey of care and rehabilitation for the young orangutan.

The first step was three weeks of quarantine to make sure that Boy was free of disease. Once this period ended, he was introduced, for the first time, to others of his kind. To say he was overcome with excitement would be an understatement…

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He swung from branch to branch hyperactively and eager to interact and play with the other babies. Due to his rough and boisterous nature, however, most of the babies were frightened.

IAR’s Chief Executive, Alan Knight, said: “Although Boy’s frenetic behavior looks quite funny, in truth it’s tragic to see this young ape struggling to fit in and find his feet among others of his own kind. After three years living with people, he has no idea how to be an orangutan.”

There are so many factors that contributed to this orangutan’s difficult start in life. Due to the palm oil industry, his home was destroyed and his mother likely killed. Then as well-intentioned as the act may have been, the palm oil worker who brought Boy home and treated him as a human stripped this primate of the little he had learned about how to survive in the wild. While we are glad that Boy is now in much better hands, it is only by raising awareness about the destruction of orangutan’s habitats as well as the detriment that keeping orangutans as pets causes, that change will truly come. To learn more about this problem and more importantly, what you can do to help, visit IAR’s website.

Image Source: International Animal Rescue/Facebook 

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