Jelapat: Fall 2021
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Rehabilitation Center: Nyaru Menteng
Date of Arrival: 21 June 2016
Current Age: 6 years
Current Position: Forest School – Group 5
Health Status: Healthy
The wet season has gradually gone, and we are now entering the dry season. This means no more slippery paths and flooded boardwalks, which would often obstruct the morning commute for young orangutans and surrogate mothers heading to Forest School. Jelapat, who used to search for ways to avoid touching the water, can now move with ease over dry land and walkways on the journey to Forest School.
As the water dries up, Jelapat and his best pal Talaken get more opportunities to explore the areas they couldn’t before on their way to Forest School.
One afternoon, after a full day of exploration, Jelapat and Talaken reappeared in the Forest School area to collect their share of fruits from the surrogate mothers. The fruit was supposed to be their breakfast, but they had missed out on it due to their earlier explorations. Luckily for them, the surrogate mothers had saved them some fruit, knowing that the two of them would return when they were hungry, as had become their habit of late.
Jelapat has recently been observed spending more time on the ground, which is a bit of a concern. He will now eat, play and rest on a big tree root instead of up in the trees, like before. He even seems uninterested in joining his bestie Talaken in the canopy.
One recent day, upon returning from one of his adventures in the forest, Jelapat headed straight to the bottom of a shady tree to rest. Not long after, a surrogate mother came by and urged him to climb up into the trees like the other orangutans. Although it took some time to persuade him, Jelapat finally climbed up a tree and continued to rest, albeit slightly higher up in the canopy near the top of a tree.
Orangutans are arboreal apes who spend almost all of their time up in the tree canopy. As such, brachiating and learning to conduct their daily activities off the forest floor are two of the most important life skills they need to master in Forest School. This is where the role of a surrogate mother is vital in motivating young orangutans to adopt appropriate natural behaviors.
Surrogate mothers bear the huge responsibility of preparing young orangutans for a life in the wild. The work they do is very tiring, yet they do not complain. Our surrogate mothers work tirelessly for Jelapat and every other orangutan in their care, so that these young Forest School students can someday experience true freedom in the forest.
Thanks to the dedication of our team, Jelapat and his friends will have a chance to one day live as true, wild orangutans!
Jelapat is still a member of the most advanced group in Nyaru Menteng’s Forest School, Group 5. He actively explores Group 5’s Forest School area, where he makes good use of his brachiating and foraging skills. Lately, he has started paying the occasional visit to other groups he passes by on the way to his group.
Jelapat has a routine of running away from his group immediately after eating the fruit given to him by the surrogate mothers.
Our surrogate mothers from Group 3 have reported that Jelapat likes to stop by and play with the younger orangutans in this group. Jelapat has even taken some students from Group 3 into the trees to explore together! The only problem is, some of these young orangutans have not returned to their group until late in the afternoon. When this happens, one of the surrogate mothers usually has to go in search of the missing orangutans. Sometimes, the young orangutans in question are found playing on the playground.
Some time ago, Jelapat and his best friend Telaken took off into the forest with a girl named Mema from Group 3. As predicted by our surrogate mothers, the three explored the forest together, then ended up back at the playground before school hours ended. A technician on duty in the area reported that the three had actually been playing in the playground area since lunch break! To prevent Jelapat and other orangutans from venturing further into other work areas, our surrogate mother decided to take them back to the night complex before their peers returned from a day of Forest School.
Earlier this month, Forest School activities at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center were temporarily suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the neighboring villages. During this time, Jelapat and other orangutans were spending their time in their sleeping complex.
Their sleeping complex is very spacious and even includes various kinds of enrichment structures so that the orangutans can always practice swinging and climbing. Every morning Jelapat loved to wait at the door of the complex because he knew exactly when it was time for our technicians and surrogate mothers to distribute milk and food. He would finish the milk and all the food before continuing to play with other orangutans.
Even though he couldn't partake in outdoor activities, Jelapat stayed active by climbing and playing with his friends. It's great to see Jelapat continuing to grow and enjoy his days, whether they are in Forest School or the sleeping complex!
keep up the great work, little man! 🙂