Monyo: Spring 2022

Rehabilitation Center: Nyaru Menteng
Arrival Date: 14 November 2019
Age on Arrival: 6 months
Current Age: 3 years
Gender: Male
Current Location: Forest School - Nursery Group
Health Status: Healthy


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Just as teachers of kindergarten guide their young students in learning basic knowledge, our surrogate mothers in the Forest School Nursery Group are responsible for teaching most basic survival skills to the orangutans in their care.

Surrogate mothers teach climbing and brachiating skills so that orangutans can move freely up in the canopy. They also teach the orangutans in their care how to identify edible foods, as well as make them aware of dangers found in the forest. Our surrogate mothers often face similar challenges to that of kindergarten teachers; they need to be patient and persistent, since not every youngster is willing to participate and pay attention to the lessons provided.

Monyo is a very active, young orangutan in the Nursery Group. He is highly curious and pays close attention to the surrogate mothers when they are teaching new skills. If he sees a surrogate mother holding something he has not seen before, he will follow her to find out what it is!

Some time ago, our surrogate mothers created a simple enrichment activity that involved sticking skewed fruits into the trunks of trees at a moderate height. This simple method succeeded in stimulating Monyo and other orangutans in the Nursery Group to climb and forage in the trees. Monyo looked confused at first, but after he watched a surrogate mother encourage another orangutan to climb a tree to take some fruit, he quickly jumped into action and raced the others up into the trees to get hold of some fruit.

Monyo has fairly good social skills, shown by his ability to mingle with others in his group. He currently spends his time almost exclusively with Niniek, and the two can usually be found exploring the forest together. Monyo and Niniek love to climb trees that are not too tall, and from there they brachiate their way up to taller trees. How clever they are!

But, no matter how close Monyo is to Niniek, he will quickly disappear and leave her to fend for herself the second he sees a veterinarian approaching the Nursery Group. Unlike Niniek, who is not that intimidated by the presence of our vets, Monyo is terrified of them and will seek refuge with the surrogate mothers.

Surrogate mothers also bear the important task of helping young orangutans foster self-confidence and independence. The process is not easy and takes a long time, but we are certain that Monyo and all the other young orangutans in our care will succeed in becoming as skilled and as self-sufficient as their wild counterparts so that they, too, can one day return to the forest of Borneo.

Keep up the great work, Monyo!

The Little, Curious One!

Late last year, our veterinary team made frequent visits to the Nursery Group, as Monyo required special care due to a fungal infection in his ear. Monyo, quite an impatient individual, was visibly annoyed by the medical team’s presence whenever they came to give him treatment.

Monyo needed to undergo treatment almost every day for a full month, with the veterinary team and surrogate mothers required to calm him on each occasion. Due to their hard work, the treatment was successful and he has since fully recovered.

Monyo is still enjoying his days in Forest School’s Nursery Group. His social skills have greatly improved; he is not only close with Niniek, but is also friendly with Jeni, Ramangai, Aiko, and Alexander. Together with his friends, Monyo has been actively roaming the Forest School area. He doesn’t wander off very far, but will now bravely climb tall trees!

The surrogate mothers have noticed that Monyo is the most curious one in the group, especially when tasting newly discovered food sources. One day, the orangutans from Nursery Group were inspecting a piece of rotten wood; Monyo didn't immediately know how to forage for termites or tree bark like some of the others, but something caught his attention.

While the other orangutans enthusiastically licked the termites off the weathered log, Monyo edged his way forward and plucked a white-hooded mushroom from the log’s surface. Luckily, this type of mushroom is edible. The skill of foraging for mushrooms must have emerged purely from Monyo’s curiosity, as the surrogate mothers have not introduced this particular type of food to the group.

On another day, a surrogate mother offered Monyo a small white flower growing from the vines in Forest School. He plucked a single petal from the flower, gave it taste, and discarded it. However, not long after this, Monyo found the same flower on his own and gave it another taste test: this time he seemed to like it! Monyo’s diet has since become more varied.

While orangutans are known as frugivores, or fruit eaters, in the wild they also consume a variety of other food sources, including leaves, flowers, tree bark, piths, honey, insects, and mushrooms, like the one Monyo recently discovered. A recent study has revealed that orangutans are able to eat 2,000 different types of foods!

The ability to recognize different food sources is a vital skill for orangutans. If little Monyo maintains his highly curious nature, he will no doubt have an infinite selection of forest foods to feast on!