BOS Foundation: An Itchy Forest School Welcome

Text by: Communications Team in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan

October 14, 2020 — For the surrogate mothers at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the moment a young orangutan progresses to a more advanced Forest School group is an occasion to celebrate. This promotion occurs whenever an orangutan fulfills the criteria to enter a new level, based on their skill repertoire and natural behaviors. Joining a more advanced group gives orangutans the opportunity to continue their jungle education and further develop more complex survival skills.

About a year ago, one such occasion occurred when several orangutans at the Nyaru Menteng Forest School were promoted. It was an unsuspecting and peaceful day when Malika, Kalanis, Monte, Jessi, and Uru of Group 3, were busily playing in their Forest School area – when the unexpected happened.






From a distance, the thumping sound of boots walking along the boardwalk could be heard approaching. It was a surrogate mother, and she was coming with a group of orangutans in tow! Mema, Oka, Rachel, and Zahri, who had been members of Forest School Group 2, were making their way to their new play area. Malika and her peers were intrigued by the arrival of these new friends.

It didn’t take long for the two groups to blend. They were immediately friendly toward one another and appeared to enjoy playing together. Zahri showed more courage than his peers from Group 2. He wandered off alone to check out all the interesting nooks and crannies of this new location. Monte, a senior in the group, moved over to Zahri and accompanied him into the forest to explore away from the view of the surrogate mothers.




Then, all of a sudden, Zahri rushed back to one of the surrogate mothers! He seemed quite distressed and was heavily drooling. Luckily, the surrogate mother knew exactly what was wrong: Zahri must have eaten some caladium leaves, which are found throughout the area. She immediately rinsed Zahri’s mouth and lips with water to relieve the itching. It took a while for Zahri to calm down, but eventually he wandered off to join Monte again in play.


We are certain that Zahri learned something from this valuable lesson, as the most uncomfortable experiences can leave the strongest impressions! Every day we are in awe of how these young orangutans continue pick up new skills and behaviors!

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