[monkeywire] Orangutan adoptions

Josh Greenman joshg1973 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 20 23:03:28 EDT 2003



A Monkey's Uncle?
Well, I'll Be, You Can 'Adopt' an Orangutan

Monday, October 20, 2003; Page C14

Imagine being a helpless baby, all alone in the jungle with no food and  
no mom.

That was Ayako's problem before she was discovered and taken to Sepilok  
Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Malaysia. That's right: Ayako is a  
baby orangutan. But in many ways she was like a human baby when she was  
taken to the center. She needed to be fed milk every few hours. She  
could do little for herself. But rangers at the center, on the  
Southeast Asian island of Borneo, helped Ayako and many other injured  
or orphaned orangutans.

The babies wear disposable diapers to keep them clean. They also wear  
baby clothes so they are warm. Just like children, they throw their  
food and play when they eat.

Because the rangers at Sepilok want to one day see the animals back in  
the wild, they have to teach the orangutans how to climb and swing on  
trees: Rangers wrap the babies' fingers around a rope. The young  
orangutans reach and grab and fall. And the rangers pick them up again.

It's important for the baby orangutans to be able to be released into  
the wild because they are endangered. Orangutans ("man of the forest"  
in the Malay language) are part of the ape family and once roamed  
widely in Southeast Asia. Now they live in the wild only on Borneo and  

Sepilok takes care of about 30 baby orangutans. The reserve also has  
about 60 older animals.

You may have seen orangutans at the National Zoo. If you're lucky, you  
can see them climb and use the "O line" to get from place to place. The  
five orangutans at the zoo are all adults.

But maybe you'd like to adopt an orangutan of your own. That's what  
Alexey Hargove, 7, of Alexandria did. But don't worry, the Hargrove  
family doesn't have an ape in the back yard.

Alexey, himself adopted from Russia, "adopted" Ayako through a Sepilok  
program that tries to pay for the cost of taking care of the animals.  
"We were both adopted," Alexey says. "That's cool."

-- Paulette Dininny 

"Adopt" an orangutan. For about $40 a year, you pay for medicine,  
diapers and food, and you receive a photo and a report twice a year.  
For info: www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/ .

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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