In 2013, the Orangutan Information Center (OIC) discovered a 14-year-old orangutan named Pongky who had been kept as a pet in a tiny, barren cage for more than a decade. Because it’s illegal to keep an orangutan as a pet in Sumatra, where he was found, the Department of Natural Resources and Ecosystem (BKSDA) had to act – but, instead of relinquishing custody of the orangutan to a wildlife rehabilitation center, they sent him to live at a zoo. Once again, Pongky had been condemned to live behind bars.

This is where Pongky the orangutan was found.

Years of boredom and solitude lead Pongky to exhibit stereotypic behaviors. He would swing back and forth on the rope suspended between the bars – his only means of entertainment. 

When Pongky was rescued from the tiny cage by the Department of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, he was confiscated and sent to live inside a cage at a small zoo.



According to the director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) and co-founder of OIC, Helen Buckland: “When Pongky was confiscated, but then transferred to Medan zoo, he simply swapped one life behind bars for another.”

His rescuers never forgot about him. For two years, they lobbied for his release into the protection of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP). Nearly two years later, they succeeded! Here he is getting ready for transport.

After nearly a decade living as a pet and entertainment prop, he will finally get the chance to learn what it means to be an orangutan.


Under the custody of the SOCP, Pongky will be rehabilitated with plans to release him back into the wild. However, at this time, there’s no telling if this orangutan, will ever be able to live on his own after so many years in captivity. Hopefully, Pongky’s story signals the beginning of a change in the way that humans treat this beautiful species.

To learn more about the work that the SOCP does to rehabilitate orangutans who have been displaced from their homes in the wild, visit their official website.

Lead image source: Orangutan Information Centre/Facebook