Orangutans are one of the most incredible creatures on this planet. They form powerful bonds with their families and friends that, with the exception of males who leave to find mates of their own, last a lifetime. They have learned to use tools to make their lives easier, and they can even learn to use sign language. In that light, it’s no surprise that we share about 97 percent of the same DNA. One only needs to learn of the story of Budi, the baby orangutan who spent the first 10 years of his life trapped in a cage with an improper diet to gain an understanding of the struggles these great apes face. As humans encroach further into the rainforests of Indonesia in order to make room for palm oil fields, families are torn apart and these highly intelligent and social creatures often fall victim to the illegal pet trade.
For many of these orangutans, life as a pet often means a life of being confined by heavy chains. Bianca, the young orangutan in the photos below, was luckier than most in that she had a fairly pampered life as a pet. She wore clothes, ate the same food, and even shared a bed with them. According to International Animal Rescue, Bianca’s guardian bought the orangutan after she saw her chained up in the backyard of a family home. But no matter how similar to a human child her guardians treated her, Bianca was an orangutan who needed to live life among her own kind. So, when International Animal Rescue learned about her, they visited Bianca’s guardians in order to convince them to give her the chance at the life she truly deserved.
The Human Orangutan Conflict Response Team tried desperately to convince Bianca’s guardians to let her leave with them. Although it is illegal to keep orangutans as pets in Indonesia, they insisted on being compensated for giving her up.
When Bianca’s guardians would not give her up, the team had no choice but to return with the local police and forestry units. They let her know that Bianca was small and sweet now, but she would soon grow too big to handle as a pet and would be at risk of being killed.
Finally, Bianca was free to go. Because she had grown so attached to the guardians who treated her like their own child, the goodbye was difficult.
But thanks to their cooperation and the efforts of all the parties involved in the rescue, Bianca now has a chance to learn how to be an orangutan under the care of professionals.
Bianca was safely escorted to their truck to be taken to the rehabilitation center in Ketapang, Indonesia to have her health evaluated. Eventually, she will get to meet other rescued orangutans.
Even though Bianca’s guardians may have had her best interests at heart, a human life is not for orangutans and these creatures are far too complex to ever be considered proper pets. She may have lost her cute kid’s clothes, but at the rescue center, she will have a full health evaluation, receive proper nutrition, and have the opportunity to socialize and bond with other orangutans. Because she has been isolated for most of her life, she has a long road to recovery ahead of her, but she is certainly in good hands.
To learn more about International Animal Rescue and the amazing work they do, visit their official website.
All image source: International Animal Rescue