Monita: Spring 2022

Rehabilitation Center: BOS Nyaru Menteng
Arrival Date: 9 June 2018
Age on Arrival: 3 months
Current Age: 3 years
Gender: Female
Current Location: Forest School – Group 3
Health Status: Healthy


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Every day, Monita continues to demonstrate consistency in practicing and honing her survival skills in Forest School Group 3. Since joining Group last year, Monita has become more adept at brachiating through the trees. More recently, the surrogate mothers noted that Monita had succeeded in building a nest! Bravo!

Nest-building skills are quite complicated to develop, but they are as vital as the skills needed to successfully forage and climb through the canopy. It takes certain experience and a special technique to weave leaves and twigs on the branch of a tree, to form a large bowl strong enough to support an orangutan’s weight and comfortable enough to sleep in. This skill will be critical for Monita when she graduates from Forest School and is released into the wild someday.

Orangutans typically build nests once or twice daily, sometimes one during the day to rest in and always one in the late afternoon to sleep in overnight. Researchers believe that for orangutans, nests serve not only as places to rest, but also as places of refuge from predators. This means that Monita has already started building some very important life skills!

While Monita’s nests are still far from perfect, she is definitely making some significant progress. Not all orangutans in Group 3 are as capable or as willing to build nests.

After a day of lessons in Forest School, Monita will usually approach the surrogate mothers keeping watch of the group. She will sit between the legs of a surrogate mother while eating the bananas she has brought with her from the feeding platform. For a 3-year-old, Monita’s dependent nature and need to be close to a surrogate mother is understandable.

Young orangutans still yearn for comfort and protection from their mothers, in this case, our human surrogate mothers. We hope that the bonds these young orangutans form with their surrogate mothers will help them grow to become confident orangutans.

We are very proud of the progress Monita has made over the years and we will continue to provide her with the support she needs to grow and develop into an independent orangutan. You are an excellent student, Monita!

Monita Still A Dominant Girl!

At the beginning of every month, the team of surrogate mothers, assisted by the Nyaru Menteng veterinary team, carries out general health checks on all Forest School students from Groups 3 to 5. Usually, in the morning before leaving for Forest School, the surrogate mothers will ready a large metal scale at the front of the night enclosure. A total of 23 orangutans from each group will then take turns weighing in.

This might sound simple enough, but it is actually a rather complicated task that requires close cooperation between the surrogate mothers and members of the veterinary team. As one surrogate mother guides a young orangutan to the scales, another stands by to record their weight, all the while the veterinary team simultaneously checking on the orangutan’s eyes, ears, and other body parts. At the same time, there are at least two other surrogate mothers nearby, encouraging the next orangutan to come forward for examination.

Some orangutans are easy to persuade; they will voluntarily climb onto the scales and then refuse to get off them, as they like the feel of the cold metal under them!

There are also orangutans who are noisy and struggle or refuse to cooperate— like Monita, who always tries to run away. At least two surrogate mothers are needed to hold her arms and legs, as she is way too strong!

Over the last three months, Monita has remained in excellent health and last weighed in at 17 kg (37.5 lbs). Her survival skills are also developing quite rapidly, particularly her ability to climb tall trees, hang, brachiate, and make nests. Her only shortcoming is that she still only eats from a somewhat limited menu. She only likes to eat young leaves, termites, and bark, despite an abundance of different forest fruits on offer in Forest School.

Monita’s dominant nature is even more evident now than it was during her time in the Nursery Group. Even though Monita is a relatively new member of Group 3, she still confidently snatches food from the hands of other orangutans, especially Alejandra.

One day, the veterinary team arrived to provide vitamins and boiled eggs as additional sources of protein. Monita loves boiled eggs and after eating her share, she slowly approached Alejandra. She managed to distract Alejandra by initiating some play-wrestling, and in an instant the boiled egg had change hands— into Monita’s! Without a hint of guilt, Monita shoved the egg in her mouth and gobbled it down, right in front of Alejandra, who could only stare in silence.

When Monita doesn’t get her fix of boiled eggs, she has no problem looking around for the next victim to steal from!

Very sneaky, Monita!