Meryl: Fall 2021
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Rehabilitation Center: Nyaru Menteng
Date of Arrival: 7 January 2015
Age on Arrival: 8 months
Current Age: 7 years
Current Position: Socialization Complex
Health Status: Healthy
In the wild, orangutans are independent, semi-solitary animals who can survive without a group. This is especially evident in adult male orangutans, who by nature explore the forest alone and actively establish their territory to keep other males from entering. However, female orangutans are a little different, as they may sometimes socialize with other females and even allow their young to play together.
At the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, the orphaned orangutans we care for learn to socialize during the Forest School stage. In many cases, the females prefer to interact in groups and their friendships can last throughout the rehabilitation process — including after they are released back into the wild!
Meryl, who currently resides in the socialization complex alongside five other females, has a close relationship with her fellow residents. The six girls enjoy a peaceful existence together.
We have noticed, especially during food or enrichment distribution time, that all six will calmly and orderly take their respective rations, then spread out to their favorite area of the complex to enjoy them. Meryl loves to spend time in the upper structure of the complex, while Kejora, Susane, and Lala hide in blue barrels or sacks. Noni and Winey, meanwhile, feel more comfortable in the corners of the complex. This orderly atmosphere is rarely found in other complexes, which are generally quite noisy places during food distribution time. This is especially the case with the young males!
After finishing their food or solving their enrichment puzzles, the six girls will often gather back at the center of the complex to continue their previous games, or start teasing, wrestling, and chasing one another around the complex. Meryl, who used to be quiet and withdrawn, now seems to be thoroughly enjoying the dynamics of this group friendship.
Their time in the socialisation complex will soon come to an end, however, as all six orangutans are scheduled to soon be transferred to a pre-release island. The last such transfer, conducted in April, involved the successful transfer of Valentino, Cinta, Jumbo, Hanin to Badak Besar Island for the pre-release stage of rehabilitation. On pre-release islands, orangutans get the opportunity to make use of all the skills they learned in Forest School and during the socialization stage.
Meryl's honed skills and sound health indicate that she will adjust well on the pre-release island, and will have no trouble catching up to her friends who have been transferred before her. Your time will come soon, Meryl!
Gorgeous Meryl consistently shows commendable progress in her ability to peacefully coexist well with her peers in the Socialization Complex: Lala, Wine, Noni, and Susanne. Noni, on the other hand, has started to show some antisocial behavior and even clashed with dominant Lala, leading to her being temporarily separated from the group and placed in the Quarantine Complex. Serious fights are not typical in the Socialization Complex, but one did occur between these two orangutans over control of a swing in the complex, which led to them needing to be separated. Time out, girls!
While Meryl has quite a social nature, she is also beginning to show more aggression and the ability to defend herself. Before, Meryl would take her share of the enrichment only after everyone else in the complex had collected theirs. However, one day she suddenly came forward to be the first to take an enrichment, and started to snatch enrichment items from other orangutans. Likewise, when other orangutans try to snatch her enrichment, Meryl is now quick to defend her possessions, and will even kiss-squeak at would-be thieves to express her displeasure.
Recently, our enrichment team prepared some burlap sacks, which orangutans use as bedding or blankets in place of leaves. The enrichment team filled the sacks with delicious treats such as pumpkin slices, nuts, and vegetables, as afternoon snacks. The sacks were then wedged into the gaps of the enclosures or placed on top of the enclosures for the orangutans to grab. The snacks in each sack were enough to keep an orangutan full for the night.
Meryl managed to grab a food-filled sack and immediately moved up to the top of the complex to enjoy its contents. She dangled from a bar with one arm, used a leg to hold the sack, and used her free hand and foot to pick through her snacks. After a while, she turned upside down and dangled from both legs. This position seems uncomfortable and difficult to eat in to a human observer, but Meryl made it look easy. She even licked the inside of the sack once she had finished, so that no scrap was wasted. Meryl is the best!
Meryl and her friends will soon be transported to a pre-release island for the final stage of rehabilitation. As previously planned, Meryl, Susanne, and Winey will go to Badak Besar Island, located in the Salat Island Cluster, while Lala and Noni will move to Bangamat Island, which is closer to Nyaru Menteng. However, before moving to an island, all five orangutans will have to undergo a routine health check. We hope they will all pass their health checks with flying colors, and get the chance to experience life on a pre-release island! Keep up the great work, girls! 🙂