Many people don’t realize how similar orangutans are to humans. These amazing primates share over 97 percent of the same DNA as people, are able to learn sign language, and they also live in close knit families and social groups in the wild that closely mirror our own. There are many traits to admire about the orangutan, but unfortunately, this species is highly threatened by human actions.
Palm oil production in the orangutan’s native habitat of Borneo and Sumatra has lead to the destruction of around 90 percent of this animal’s home. As a tree-dwelling species, orangutans rely on the forest for everything from shelter to food, meaning when the forests disappear, so do they. The good news is, there are many people and organizations who are determined to give orangutans a fighting chance against extinction. International Animal Rescue (IAR) is one of these incredible organizations.
IAR runs a comprehensive rescue and rehabilitation program that aims to give orangutans the best chance possible at being released back into the wild when they are healthy enough to do so. Some of the residents that come to their rescue center are full-grown orangutans, but more often than not, their charges are orphaned baby orangutans, like little Jecka.
Jecka came to the IAR rehabilitation center in Kepatang after he was surrendered by a family who had been keeping him as a pet for five months. His rescuers estimate that he is between seven and eight months old. Considering that baby orangutans are typically completely dependent on their mothers for the first two years of life, it is a wonder that he came to the sanctuary in relatively good health.
Despite the trauma of losing his mother and wild home, Jecka was in great spirits when he arrived at the center. The people who had cared for him before turning him over to the authorities fed him a strict diet of milk, leaving out the fruits and vegetables that are essential in a growing orangutan’s diet, but he is now being fed all the proper foods to enable him to grow up big and strong. And from the looks of it, Jecka is loving it!
Alan Knight, IAR’s CEO explains, “Some would say that Jecka is one of the lucky ones to have been rescued from captivity. But, like all the orangutans in our centre, he has already suffered terrible trauma and been deprived of the chance to grow up in the forest with his mother. We owe it to every single one of them to try to put their lives back together and return them to freedom. Jecka has years of rehabilitation ahead of him but our expert team of vets and keepers will be with him every step of the way.”
In the expert care of the IAR team, Jecka is sure to get all the care and love he needs to make a full recovery and return to the jungle. To learn more about IAR and follow Jecka’s journey, check out their website and Facebook page.
All image source: International Animal Rescue