Topan: Fall 2021


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Rehabilitation Center: Nyaru Menteng
Arrival Date: 13 October 2017
Age on Arrival: 8 months
Current Age: 5 years
Current Location: Forest School Group 3
Gender : Female
Health Status: Healthy

Summer Flashback

April marks the beginning of the dry season in Indonesia; including in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan. As the days become hotter and more humid, it is not only the orangutans in Forest School who feel uncomfortable in the heat, our surrogate mothers feel the same way. During this time of the year, the surrogate mothers will often pitch a tarp between trees to provide shelter from the sun in Forest School.

Topan is the most active orangutan in Forest School Group 3. Even in the heat of the day, she will tirelessly explore, climb tall trees, and forage for natural food. But unfortunately, young leaves - her favorite food source, which were available in abundance during the rainy season - are now rather difficult to find. However, armed with her sound foraging skills, Topan has no trouble finding fruits and cambium to enjoy instead.

Even though it is no longer the wet season, heavy rain can still fall at night, creating puddles in various areas of Forest School. Orangutans love to frolic in these puddles to cool off; they will drench themselves in the water, play and splash about, or drink the water in them, as Topan does.

One hot day, after exploring Forest School, Topan made a beeline for a puddle to cool down in. She cupped the water in her hands and scooped it into her mouth. She also wet her hair as though washing herself. What an absolutely refreshing thing to do after a scorching day in the sun!

When the day winds down in Forest School, Topan will approach a surrogate mother to request some fruit. She also likes to play with other orangutans on the feeding platform. Usually, Topan loves to spend time with her female friends, but some time ago we saw her playing more frequently with Bumi, one of the males in the group. The two enjoy spending time together and sharing food.

In addition to staying active during the change of season, Topan has also remained in good health. Keep on doing what you’re doing, champ!

Fall 2021

Topan is still a member of Forest School Group 3. In mid-June, Monita, an old friend of Topan’s from the Nursery Group, managed to quickly catch up in learning her natural skills and she joined Topan and Alejandra in Group 3. The first day Monita arrived in the group was a happy moment for all!

Topan and Alejandra had joined Group 3 in March 2020, parting ways with Monita who remained in Group 2. When Monita was brought to join Group 3 by a surrogate mother, Topan quickly climbed down from the tree she was playing in the second she spotted Monita. The two ate fruit on the feeding platform before starting off on a forest adventure together.

On that particular day, Topan spent time with Monita around the Forest School area, as if introducing her bestie to the new neighborhood. The most surprising thing was the fact that Monita was rather easily able to keep up with Topan’s agile brachiating through the trees. Like true arboreal animals, they were able to move around small branches without falling. These two little females absolutely dominate the high canopy. Amazing! You go, girls!

In the afternoon, the orangutans were gathered once again in the feeding platform, to eat some more fruit and drink milk before returning to their sleeping enclosures. Topan quickly climbed down to the feeding platform and the surrogate mothers soon worked out that Topan’s cry was an expression of worry that she was going to miss out on getting milk. How dramatic!

According to our surrogate mothers, Topan is one of the few in her group with high confidence. She is never afraid of trying new things, or exploring the forest alone or with peers she meets along the way. However, at such a young age, it is only natural that Topan will still rely on a surrogate mother and occasionally sulk when she doesn’t get her way. As she gets older, we believe Topan will develop a more independent nature and grow into a capable adult!

Keep up the great work, Topan! 🙂