Posted by: Wisnu | March 15, 2017

Baby Jacques

Whilst in Sintang recently to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our wonderful friend, beloved priest to so many, as well as our Sintang Orangutan Centre (SOC) project partner, Father Jacques Maessen, we were thrilled that a baby orangutan rescue also took place. Needless to say, the lovely baby orangutan was renamed ‘Jacques’!

To celebrate his brother’s marvellous achievement, Father Jacques’ brother and sister-in-law also attended the event. Marcel and Margot Maessen then kindly offered to support the education and care of (baby) Jacques by the SOC team, until the day he can be released in a safe forest home. A truly wonderful day! 

Please find Willie’s article about Baby Jacques below.

We will be uploading an article about the anniversary event very soon!’


Baby Jacques

Today March 4th, 2017, a new baby orangutan arrived at the Sintang Orangutan Center and we named the little male “Jacques”. Why such a difficult name? Because today, exactly 50 years ago, Father Jacques Maessen was ordained as a priest and since then he has worked tirelessly as a missionary to improve the life of the Dayaks in the interior of Borneo. Father Jacques is also, together with Dudung, leading the day-to-day activities of the Sintang Orangutan Center.

Little Jacques was confiscated today from a businessman in Sintang. He has a car rental company and he claimed that he saw this little, probably 3-year-old orangutan, in a restaurant. When he showed interest in the little fellow he was immediately offered the opportunity to buy him. And he did… even though he was aware it was illegal. It was less than a month later that his youngest daughter contacted the Ministry of Forestry about the baby orangutan kept in the back of their house. Her mother supported her because she thought it was unhygienic and dangerous to have a little orangutan so near her own children.

Together with the Ministry of Forestry Nature Conservation Police unit, our Sintang Orangutan Center team immediately left to rescue the little orangutan. Her husband was very unhappy but grudgingly had to witness his wife signing the confiscation papers and telling the team to take Jacques away.

During the month with the family all little Jacques had been given to eat was boiled rice with sugar. From his dense hair and the oiliness and even the smell of his hair, I estimate that he indeed was taken from his mother at most two months ago. Most likely his mother was killed so that poachers could take away her baby. Possibly baby Jacques’ mother was eaten, like so many other orangutans.

Despite the poor diet, Jacques seems very healthy and active. Of course, he was very stressed when he was taken out of the cage, but once the SOC car arrived at the center and our best babysitter, Jessy, stretched out her arms to little Jacques, there was no hesitation and he immediately put his arms around her. With the many leaves and appropriate food awaiting him in his quarantine cage, Jacques immediately laughed, rolled and played around. But he regularly checked to make sure Jessy was still there waiting for him. She patiently spent many hours with him keeping him at ease until he fell asleep at dusk.

In a few weeks we will get back his blood results and the outcome of his TB test and then we will know how fast he can join the other orangutan babies in the socialization facility. Below are some pictures of the confiscation and Jacques’ arrival at the center.

The team just heard that an orangutan baby had been spotted and immediately got the VSA sponsored vehicle and transport cage ready for a confiscation/rescue mission.

The team arrived at the home that had been reported for having a small orangutan. He was found hidden behind the house. The owner was upset, but not his wife…

Here is Jacques locked up in a cage the family had built for a pair of cats. No leaves, no toys, just a barren tile floor.

The wife of the owner did not want the orangutan in her house and it was her daughter that reported the orangutan to the forestry police.

Doctor Vicktor and Bayu (from inside the cage) taking Jacques out of the cat cage in which he was kept. Rice is falling from his back as he had only been fed rice with sugar for a whole month.

The head of the forestry police, Dr. Victor with baby Jacques and the businessman that bought the baby orangutan. They are shaking hands to show that the ‘owner’ agrees to give up the orangutan and a photo is needed for the police file.

Doctor Victor, the Sintang Orangutan Center veterinarian, carrying Jacques to the transport cage. It is easy to see how scared the baby orangutan is.

Lips tight Jacques waits to see what will happen to him next. But soon the traumatic experiences will be over.

Arriving at the Sintang Orangutan Center, Dudung, the project manager, steps from the car to open the cage.

Here Jessy, the SOC keeper specialising in baby care, reaches to Jacques and already one can see the difference in his look. Not afraid, interested and curious.

As soon as he accepts Jessy’s arms, little Jacques feels much better and clings on to his new ‘mom’, as he would have done with his real mother in the jungle.

One of the forestry police saying goodbye to doctor Victor after the formal paperwork of handing the baby orangutan to the Sintang Orangutan Center.

Jacques immediately loved all the branches, leaves and fruit that was awaiting him in his quarantine cage. You can imagine that this would have been such a nice change from what he had experienced the previous month.

Little Jacques looking up at Jessy, the babysitter, who stayed with him until he finally fell asleep just when it turned dark. His long journey back to the jungle is about to begin.


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