Sumatra: The Orangutan Haven is a Reality!
Dec 5, 2023 — We have some incredible news to share and celebrate! The Swiss NGO PanEco Foundation and its Indonesian partner Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari YEL (Sustainable Ecosystem Foundation) recently announced that the first orangutans have moved into their amazing new facility in Sumatra, Indonesia: The Orangutan Haven.
Four of eight “unreleasable” orangutans have moved from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Quarantine Center to their NEW HOME at the gorgeous Orangutan Haven. Each of these precious unreleasable orangutans is now out of their cage and has been given a forested island on which to live!
Orangutan Outreach has been supporting SOCP for many years and has been there every step of the way in the 10-year journey to create the Orangutan Haven. It is a beautiful sanctuary that will be the forever home to eight special orangutans, all of whom have physical or psychological challenges that keep them from returning to life in the forest.
Since orangutans can live 50 years or more, the Orangutan Haven was created to provide these eight individuals the best possible care and welfare for the rest of their lives. They will live on large naturally vegetated islands, rather than living out their days in the metal cages they previously occupied at the SOCP Quarantine Center. The islands are equipped with climbing structures, ropes, plants, nesting baskets and freshwater drinking pools, and are separated from each other by wide water moats. The islands will allow the orangutans to live a much more natural and enriched life, while still receiving all the care they need.
Krismon, seen at right, (from the Orangutan Outreach adoption program) was the first cheekpadder to move on September 12, 2023. Next to move was Leuser on October 5. They were followed by Paguh on October 17 and Dina on November 7.
All four orangutans are doing well, and are adjusting to their new home. On October 19, Leuser became the first orangutan out onto his island and by the end of November; the other three precious orangutans had come out to explore their lush surroundings.
Photos below: Blind orangutan Leuser exploring his island. Click on the thumbnail to see full size.
On the day adult male orangutan Leuser (seen above) emerged from his night house onto his island, Dr. Ian Singleton, Conservation Manager of the Orangutan Haven, remarked:
“This was a huge day for all of us, but especially for Leuser himself. We had no idea how he was going to find his way around and map out his new environment but he went straight up a rope from his indoor quarters to one of the nest baskets provided on the island, 6m off the ground. Since then he’s been exploring the ropes and timbers around his nest baskets, gradually visiting new features and new areas every day. It’s just fascinating to watch this process and imagine what is going through his head as he develops a mental map of his new world”.
What makes this even more amazing is that Leuser is blind in both eyes! He was shot 62 times with an air rifle, including twice in one eye and once in the other, during a conflict with local farmers. It is absolutely remarkable that he has the confidence to explore his island and climb as high as he can go!
Paguh (at right) is also blind due to being shot with an air rifle, and young Dina (at left) is blind due to contracting encephalitis, an infection of the brain. These two are also showing much courage as they learn to navigate around their islands.
Sweet, gentle Krismon is not blind but has many chronic health conditions and weakness in his legs due to having been in a very cramped cage for so many years while he was an illegal pet. He is becoming bolder every day as he ventures further out onto his island. It is heartwarming to see each of the orangutans beginning their new life at the Haven.
The Orangutan Haven is not YET open to the public. We will let you know when the Haven formally opens in 2024 so you can plan a trip! From the welcoming entrance, to the iconic bamboo bridge, to the lush islands, and to the gorgeous red apes themselves – it is a sanctuary to behold. The Haven aims not only to educate about the plight of wild orangutans, but also to inform visitors of all backgrounds how they can reduce their environmental footprint and strive for a sustainable lifestyle. It is truly a ground-breaking facility in terms of orangutan conservation, animal welfare, and education.
We hope you are as thrilled as we are with this Orangutan Haven news! After 10 years of planning, the remarkable Orangutan Haven is a reality! We also hope this makes you smile and helps you realize what your support has done. Remember – not all of the orangutans are "home" yet! SOCP still needs to transfer four more orangutans in the next few months. Funding is still very much needed to secure the transfers, complete the Haven infrastructure, and to care for each of the orangutans for the remainder of their long lives.
Thank you for caring about these beautiful creatures and for taking action to assure a permanent home with the best care possible for these precious souls.