Posted by: masaranghk | August 9, 2015

NEWSLETTER 2015 : Latest News About Orangutan at SOC


Dear Supporters and Readers. Please have a look at the latest pictures and updates of the orangutans in the care of SOC (the Sintang Orangutan Center). Sintang is the capital of a district in the heart of Borneo and it is here where the rescue and q1uarantine center is located. When the orangutans are healthy and large enough they move to the forest school in the village named Tembak. This original Dayak village is located next to the Saran forest and the villagers have given the project some 150 acres of jungle right next to their village to use for training orangutans to become wild again. From this fenced forest area they are moved to their permanent forest home in the Saran forest. Each and every orangutan is unique and deserves to be saved. The stories you can read beneath give you the latest July 2015 situation of the orangutans in the rescue center and forest school. One really gets a good feel for the different personalities reading their personal stories. We hope you will support us in helping these unique beings, all orphans, to get a second chance for life in their forest jungle home.

Masarang Hong Kong welcomes your inquiries!




Agung is very quiet and also very skinny and small for his age. His size can be attributed to severe malnutrition when he was younger. Although ‘agung’ means ‘the greatest’ in Indonesian, the other orang-utans do not seem to know this as Agung often gets bullied.

He gets a wide range of food from us to give him the opportunity to experience different food every day. However, he does not like many kinds of food. He mainly eats bananas and sometimes papaya and oranges, which we therefore give him in large quantities.

With love and care, as well as more appetite for a wider variety of food, we are hopeful that Agung will make steady improvement.





Although Bablu still has difficulties establishing good relationships with the staff, she does however like it when our vet, Vicktor, pulls out her chin hairs one by one. Her previous owners used to do that because Bablu enjoyed it! We do not aim to have orang-utans be friendly with people; however, it is important that they have a good relationship with their caretakers. Bablu’s behaviour can be very unpredictable; sometimes she has a good day and sometimes she has a bad day. This, of course, is not restricted to only orang-utans, as we all know!




Bembi is doing very well in the socialisation enclosures. This is not really surprising because she is such an extraordinarily clever young female. Before, she was spending most of her time with Tanjung and Penai, but she is now swapping enclosures on a regular basis. This way she gets to interact with a bigger variety of orang-utans. She can even be in the same enclosure as moody Bablu! Although they do not really play with each other; the two ladies give each other enough space when eating and never fight.

Bembi also gets along with Agung very well. Agung gets easily dominated by other orang-utans, but Bembi is a similar size to Agung. It is good to see them treat each other as equals.

Bembi’s new best friend is Molly, who is around the same age. Together they are the youngest of the juvenile group, but are both doing very well.

Recently when the orangutans got their daily browse/nesting material, Bembi started attempting to sort the leaves into something that was supposed to become a nest; however, she looked confused whilst doing so. One of our staff started helping her by showing her how to make a nest, similar to a bed. Bembi watched with full attention how Vicktor structured her leaves and after he had finished, she immediately laid down on her freshly prepared bed! As mentioned earlier, she is very smart and can even get others to make her bed for her!


Bembi is not only good at social skills, interacting wonderfully with any other orang-utans, but she is also extremely aware of complicated situations. For instance once when Jessy, our baby caretaker was sitting with Terra in the large baby socialization enclosure, Bembi stood in front of Jessy and whined while every time moving her eyes from Jessy to a place above her. When Jessy looked up she saw the snake!




Cemong is a very strong climber. Recently Cemong was released into the trees at around nine and did not come down until 4 pm. She has fantastic endurance, climbs to great heights and shows skilful climbing techniques allowing her to climb easily from one canopy to another. It is wonderful to see how she truly feels at home high up in the branches.




Dora unfortunately still has some troubles with her intestines, and is therefore still in the quarantine enclosures. She used to call often for attention when staff passed by, but we are happy to see that she feels more at home now and that she calls less for attention.

We hope that she will recover soon and join the other babies in the enclosure.




It is important that the orangutans learn to like a large variety of food before being released into the wild as this increases their chances of survival. The larger the variety of food an orangutan eats, the greater their chances are of finding food in the forest. This increases the chances of an orangutan finding sufficient food sources in times when food is scarce.

Gagas’ appreciation of different fruits and vegetables is not quite large enough; however, there is one that is his utmost favourite, the ‘buahbenggkowang’ (a kind of potato or turnip-like vegetable). When he spots ‘buahbenggkowang’ he immediately drops whatever other food he has in his hand at the time and runs for this one.

He is making very good progress and improving his forest survival skills every day.




Orangutans should have an understanding of things in the forest that are dangerous or unpleasant. Some ants for example can bite, although others are not harmful at all. The fact that bees sting is also another thing that some orangutans learn the hard way, namely by trial and error.

Some of the orangutans are scared of bees whilst others are not. Some first need to meet and greet bees before they understand that a bee can sting and that this is not a particularly pleasant experience. Joy once came down the trees with a face full of inflamed lumps caused by bee stings. Jojo had a similar experience and the next time she came across something that resembled a beehive she started banging it with a stick. It appears that she did not know the difference then between a beehive and similar looking objects, as this time it was just something similar to a beehive she was banging.

When Iga recently discovered a beehive, she also started banging it to get the bees out. Orangutans bang small beehives not because they are angry or scared but to chase the bees out. Without the bees in the hive they can get to the honey, without being bothered by stinging bees.
Iga is also doing well and learning day-by-day to be a successful, safe orang-utan. She already is smart!




We had lobbied for a long time for the Ministry of Forestry to close down a ‘zoo’ where so much wildlife had perished. Inul used to share the cage in that ‘zoo’ with Cuplis, a male orang-utan. They were kept in the full sun with no shade and were surrounded by garbage and their own waste. Cuplis died in that enclosure. We were very pleased that our lobbying was successful and Inul is doing well at our Sintang Centre.

Inul instantly recognized Willie the first moment she saw him at our orang-utan centre. She had previously seen him three years before when he visited her and Cuplis in the horrible ‘zoo’ in the hope of getting her and Cuplis released. Orangutans have much better memories than humans!


Inul had a lot of parasites when she was first brought to SOC, but she is now a healthy young lady again. She is now very much at ease and seems to really enjoy her very much improved life.




Jamilah is very particular about which humans she likes. However, with Willie she is the sweetest girl, always asking for a nice hand massage or some gentle scratching behind her left ear.


Jamilah is an example of one that does not like it when people watch when she has to move to another enclosure for cleaning. When the staff closes the gate she is always a bit irritated. She does not like people easily and has very particular preferences amongst the staff. Only Adang and can clean the enclosure while Jamilah is present. When the other staff members attempt to do it that way, Jamilah lets them know she is not amused by their visit and grabs the cleaning equipment away from them.




Juvi has discovered a new game with the keepers. She comes to the front of the enclosure and actively tries to challenge Eko and Vicktor to come to the enclosure to chase her. When they playfully approach the enclosure, Juvi happily runs away. When the keepers pretend they leave, she tries to lure them to play the game over again.


She is doing well and we hope that she will continue to make good progress.




Maya is one of our new babies. She recently got a new playmate, called Selly. They are both around one and a half years old, which makes them the youngest of all the babies at SOC. Therefore they are put together in one enclosure, so they will not get bullied by the older babies.


Maya is a bit more scared than Selly and she is very careful when climbing. When Maya and Selly go to the forest with the keepers, she needs more time to climb from the keepers to the tree. First she just clings on the keeper. Soon she dares to grab a branch with two hands and one foot, although one hand is still holding onto the keeper’s shirt. After a bit more time and she is brave enough to let go of the keeper and explore the trees on her own. However, she remains very close to the keepers, like wild orang-utans would stay close to their mothers at this age.




Matuari once tried to test his strength against Willie in a play wrestling game, when Willie was in the enclosure. Since then he always goes to the farthest end of the facility when Willie passes by. Orangutans have an excellent memory!





Molly is finding her way in the socialisation enclosures. Her best friend is Bembi. The two are the youngest of this group.





Orangutans often have their own way of attracting attention. Penai hangs her hands out of the enclosure and starts clapping them, others sometimes try to spit, throw or wave with a twig and some blow raspberries! Mungki also has his own way. He blows on the back of his hand, resulting in a loud raspberry-like sound.

Mungki is doing very well in the socialisation cages, and is getting along with more and more orang-utans. He can be a bit dominant and aggressive at times when it comes to food, however he can even be paired with our sensitive girl,Penai, without there being any problems. He really likes Penai and occasionally tries to hug her, although Penai prefers just being friends without the hugging part.




Oli is currently in the baby enclosure, although he is not a baby anymore. However, he is already the most dominant individual in this group. In the near future we will see with whom he can be matched in the juvenile group.

Because of malnutrition when he was younger, he is not of equal strength to the other juveniles. In addition he has a paralysed leg, which also makes him less mobile.


We know of many other orang-utans that have had good lives with just three usable limbs and Oli does use the knee of his broken leg for climbing, so we are hopeful that he will continue to make good progress and be successful in the future.




Oscar does not seem to be scared of anything and is always willing to try new things. It is wonderful to see how Oscar now has a fun and carefree life, after a previously terrible beginning. His mother was killed in front of him and he was kept in captivity afterwards.
When we take Oscar to the forest, his real talent shows! He can already eat dozens of food types in the jungle! He eats termites, many kinds of forest fruits, young leaves and twigs, thorny rattan fruits, shoots from ginger growing on the forest floor, as well as young shoots of orchids. Many of the babies have to be taught what is safe to eat, but Oscar’s ability to know what to eat is simply amazing!

He also is a risk taker. He loves to swing from branches and lets himself fall on purpose. We hope he will soon learn to be more careful out there in the forest!





When Penai arrived at the Centre, she was ill and emaciated. The forestry police had taken her from a restaurant in Nanga Pinoh and they thought she was close to death. Luckily, Doctor Sri treated her and now she is seldom sick after the wonderful care and good food.

Penai is very popular with the guys. Matuari and Mungki are often trying to get Penai’s attention. Mungki tries to hug her now and then, but she does not show much interest in his hugging attempts. However she does seem to be happy with Matuari’s attentions!

Unfortunately we cannot let Matuari and Penai spend much time together since Penai has reached the maturity level when she can get pregnant. Of course, we want her to have babies and become a great mother in the future. However, we hope even more that she could raise her young in the wild. It is true that pregnancy during the rehabilitation process could give us the opportunity to help her in her motherhood. However, for the baby, it would be better to not have lived in captivity at all (even though it is a rescue and rehabilitation centre).




Ribang is always up to something, exploring his way around. A boot is nice on your feet, but what about as a lovely hat?
Ribang has now gained a lot of confidence from his “Boys Club”. He likes to gang up with Oscar, Oli and Gagas in the enclosure to occupy the best position to get the morning bottles of milk first. They are the ‘greedy bunch’ and support each other.


His increasing taste for a wider variety of foods have helped him gain weight and that has probably also helped him to gain more confidence, as can be seen from his little cheek pads that always indicate naughty and outgoing character in juvenile and baby orang-utans.




PutriTanjung means in Indonesian princess of the island.





We were really worried about Terra when she first came to the centre, since she was so traumatized but, wow, did she come out of that fearful and shy condition! Now she gained herself even the nickname “bite-y girl”!


Terra often has a funny funky hairstyle where her hair points straight up from her head to the sky.




Selly started her rehabilitation at SOC in Tembak first, because she was evacuated from a village very close to Tembak. Although we are planning to take more babies to Tembak in the near future, we took Selly to Sintang. The reason for this is that she is one of the smaller babies and the babies that will go to Tembak, will be the older ones. To prevent bullying by older ones, Selly is happiest matched with her peers, like Maya. These two little girls often go to the baby forest school together. Selly is a good climber, and the braver and more explorative of the two.


As soon as we have enough funding for baby enclosures in Tembak, we will arrange various baby age groups to stay together in these enclosures in Tembak.





Viko is a gentle girl and more often afraid of things. During her first introduction in the baby enclosure she held on to the keepers for a long period of time. While the other babies were very interested in their new playmate and started to explore their new friends, she would not let go of the keeper.

She is now making great progression with the other babies, and often hanging more in the background and playing and exploring the world quietly by herself. We are also happy to see that she is not showing stress symptoms as before when she suffered repetitive stress syndrome where she rocked her body repetitively.

When our new orang-utan baby keeper, Tri, started cleaning the enclosure, it was Viko who liked to hold her hand while she was cleaning their cage.





Tembak is the name of the village where our forest school is located. The villagers have donated approximately 60 hectares of virgin forest to be used for the orang-utans. We have started fencing in the area so that orang-utans that are getting bigger and more ready for the permanent release near Tembak. We do not want them to have any contact with local people, neither do we want local people getting disturbed by adventurous orang-utans venturing into their gardens. We have taken the first five orang-utans to Tembak and these are now living successfully in the Tembak forest.




The new night enclosure in Tembak is finished for Jojo & Momo and a few more orangutans that are currently in Sintang. Jojo & Momo have already been moved and seem very happy in this new place.

Jojo is now almost back home. Literally, since she originally was caught in the nearby forests and handed over by the Tembak village to our project. Now she lives there again but is loved, protected and has a much brighter future for herself and her offspring.


Soon other orangutans will also be moved to Tembak. The fence is completely finished and we will soon ask the Chief of the Forestry Ministry to invite the Minister to officially welcome the orangutans to Tembak.




The electric fence is finished and Beno was the second who was let in the forest enclosure with the new fence. Of course everything that is new is interesting and should therefore be explored. Although not a nice experience, Beno still tried to touch the fence a few times. After those few times he decided it would be best just to keep the fence as it is and stay away from it. He now knows he can just play in the forest, but should keep a distance from the fence!




Mamat was the first who could try the electric fence. This new installation had to be explored and as a part of this exploration Mamat chose to touch it. Surprised by the rather unpleasant feeling of the shock of the fence, he still was tempted to touch it again, because this was probably the first time he experienced something like that. After a few times of touching and surprised by the feeling, he now understands the fence is something you should leave alone and just use your energy climbing trees. This would be useful, as he certainly needs his climbing skills to improve.

His muscles are not well developed yet, due to the severe conditions he used to live in. Whilst being confined to a tiny cage and being dramatically malnourished, his muscles were so cramped that he could not even move his limbs or open his hands. It took a year of care and physical therapy before he could use his limbs again properly. As a result, his underdeveloped muscles do not make it easy for him to catch up with the other orangutans in the forest. It requires a lot more effort for him to climb and this can be very frustrating for him. He does come up with new ways of climbing though, sometimes he uses his chin against the tree to climb up! Where there is a will, there is a way.
We do have some concerns that Mamat’s eyesight might have been affected by the long period of malnutrition. Although we cannot be sure he will make it back to the jungle as an independent orang-utan, he has made an amazing recovery and is enjoying life in the forest again at forest school.




Prior to being rescued, Joy had been tied by a chain on a garbage dump along a small road near Nanga Pinoh and was heavily burned by being left in the sun without shade.

She is making good progress and we are very pleased that Joy is really good at finding food in the jungle. She clearly remembers things from the time she was still with her mother since some of the things she is eating we did not even know are suitable for orang-utans!

When baby Selly was still based in Tembak, Joy was very interested in her. Very gently she would approach Selly and play with her together in the forest. Once when they were climbing the trees together, Joy took her hand to help her climb over to another tree. Joy was a bit like Selly’s big sister in the forest.




Momo is as naughty as ever and likes to play with our biologist’s shirts.

You can clearly see from his eyes and cheekpads that he is a superconfident fellow. Fortunately he is willing to come along with a few of our senior orangutan keepers, but he is growing fast in size and strength and his rough play is a bit of a concern. We need to bring a few of the other orang-utans from Sintang to Tembak to show Momo he is not the ‘King of the Jungle’!

Momo & Jojo have been moved to the newly- built enclosure in Tembak. This enclosure has a tunnel connecting it to the forest. The orang-utans will then be able to go in the forest independently from people.

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