Meet the Orangutan Carers

In our rescue and rehabilitation centres, orphaned orangutans need medical treatment, nurturing, Jungle School training, and more. When they’re rescued from captivity such as chicken coops, unkempt zoos or even boats, they need years of care in order to recover to the point where they can return to the wild. It’s nearly Orangutan Caring Week (7 to 13 November) and we wanted to introduce you to two special women who provide care and nurturing to vulnerable young orangutans in our rescue centres.

Meet Tata, paramedic working at our BORA Rescue Centre

In our Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Tata is one of the kindest, most gentle souls around. She has a wide-ranging job that requires her to care for the medical wellbeing of the orangutans at the rescue centre, undertake medical checks, draw blood, and also provide medicines and even milk. Below she's giving him medicine soon after he arrived at our BORA Centre.

Speaking about why she works at our BORA Centre, Tata, says, "Orangutans are one of the Great Apes that live in Borneo, and the biggest part of Borneo island is Indonesian territory. As an Indonesian, I feel that I have a responsibility to participate in saving orangutans. I do believe that earth forms a balance, and when we lose sometehing, it makes the earth unbalanced. Orangutans have an important role in maintaining the forest ecosystem by dispersing seeds, and when we lose them, I cannot imagine how we can disperse seeds in the forest."

Tata was on hand when Popi and Jainul moved across from our older rescue centre to the new BORA centre, and she takes her role as a veterinary nurse seriously. As you can see in the video below, providing milk to hungry young Jainul is not as simple as just holding the milk bottle out to him. Part of caring for an orangutan includes stimulating his mind, making him work for his food, and encouraging him to reach and swing through trees (or in this case the baby playground) so he's learning how to forage for food.

Meet Riris, veterinarian at the Sumatran Orangutan Reintroduction Centre

Riris Prawesti is the face of Orangutan Caring Week this year, in this beautiful photo snapped by our partner Frankfurt Zoological Society. She works as a field veterinarian at the Sumatran Orangutan Reintroduction Centre (SORC)  in Jambi, Sumatra, where she cares for familiar faces, including Natalee and of course little Sudin and his best friend Siti. 

Based in the Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP) Ecosystem in central Sumatra, the SORC provides intensive Jungle School training to orphaned orangutans before they are released into the protected forest. Orangutans are closely monitored after release and given medical care if needed.

Riris organises the health management for orangutans at the rehabilitation and release sites. She is also a member of the orangutan evacuation team for human-orangutan conflict mitigation in BTP. Before she became a veterinarian, Riris managed the orangutan field database at the reintroduction centre in 2016. She continued her studies and became a veterinarian to share her love and passion for wildlife, especially for orangutans. Riris returned to the jungles of BTP in 2019 as a qualified veterinarian. 

As you can see from the way Sudin clings to her, Riris is a well-loved veterinarian and carer. Orangutan carers are superheroes, working hard every day to make the lives of vulnerable, traumatised orangutans better. They don’t wear capes, but sometimes they wear young orangutans on their backs - we think that’s a better look anyway.

As this month is Orangutan Caring Week, you can be a superhero too. Donate today to help our carers make life better for the vulnerable young orangutans in their care.

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