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The Nyaru Mentang Center, located on the Indonesian side of Borneo , is home to more than 600 orphaned Orangutans. Here these infants, all victims of deforestation and illegal poaching, are taught to fend for themselves in the wild, a process that takes about eight years.
The rescued apes are first taken to a medical center for a thorough examination for diseases like Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B. Once they receive a clean bill of health, they are introduced to the other residents and also inducted into the Forest School - a regimented program, where the infants are wheeled to a nearby forest every day from dawn to dusk and encouraged to explore the area, climb trees and just have fun! This is the first step towards teaching them how to survive in the wild.
Apes too big for this school, are placed in large cages, where they learn to climb and build nests, just like they would do in the wild.
Besides survival training, the infants are also nurtured with a lot of love and good food, to help them grow healthy and strong. The center has its own plantation, which grows over 40 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. On any given month, these baby apes feast on 2,000 papayas , 2,000 kilos of cucumbers, 8,000 oranges, 44,000 satsumas, 8,000 kilos of bananas, 2,000 watermelons, 2,500 kilos of sweet corn, 2,000 pineapples and 2,000 coconuts. No wonder they look so happy!
Once the animals master the basic skills, they graduate to a Midway House, which comprises of three nearby islands, that have been bought by the Orangutan Foundation, for their rehabilitation. Though they are still under supervision, those that show independence and skills to build their beds on the trees, are allowed to have 'sleepovers' in the forests. The rest return to their cages at the end of the day.
Most apes spend about 18 months in the Midway House, before they are deemed ready to be completely independent. So far, the center has released about 150 apes into designated safe forests around the region.
Orangutans, which are native to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, are very different from the three other species of apes, which are all native to Africa. For one, they are our closest relatives, sharing 97% of the same DNA as humans. They are also the only arboreal apes, which means they spend all their time on trees. While other apes sleep on trees, they spend most of the day on the ground. Their reddish-brown color also sets them apart from the other ape species.
To learn more about this incredibly cute animals go to: http://www.born-to-be-wild.org/html/borneo_rehab.html