Gokong is going well at the SOCP Orangutan Quarantine Centre in North Sumatra. He is currently housed in one of the larger socialization blocks.
Gokong is considered to be one of the more dominant males in his group, often grabbing food or leaves from the other orangutans. Although he has not yet been observed to make his own nest, he loves to use other orangutans’ nests!
At feeding time, Gokong will take as much food as he can and then sit on one of the platforms in the cages or hang suspended while eating his food. The orangutans are provided with sticks and leaves on a daily basis for nest building and tool use. Fruits and vegetable pieces are often placed out of reach of the socialization cages. The orangutans need to use the sticks provided so the orangutans can ‘go fishing’ to reach the pieces of fruit. Activities like this keep the orangutans mentally stimulated and encourage problem solving, therefore better preparing them for the wild. Some orangutans use the leaves to build sleeping nests – however, Gokong has not been seen doing this yet.
Gokong is infamously known for spraying the keepers at the site with water that he collects in his mouth. He knows to wait until the keepers are within close proximity before letting loose. As well as spitting water at people, he is also known to try and urinate on the keepers! Although this is not an expected behavior from an orangutan, at the very least it shows that Gokong has strong cognition skills and know about strategy.
According to SOCP Quarantine Vet Dr. Meuthya, Gokong has shown a propensity to get sick from other orangutans however he also recovers fast from any illness. He has never had any serious health problems and he is in good physical condition.
Gokong is now approximately five years of age. He is a good candidate for future release based on his age and dominant behavior, however he needs further training and time in a forest setting. Since he is no longer a baby, he will need a larger forest area than the small forest school established at the site for baby orangutans. This is important for numerous reasons including Gokong being able to travel larger distances, experience an increased variety of flora, climb higher, practice nest building in the canopy and further develop his overall forest skills. Thankfully the SOCP has recently acquired a 1.6-hectare plot of forested land adjacent to the Quarantine centre and the staff have already begun taking orangutans to forest school at this site which is very exciting.