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Rescue and rehabilitation station

After the orangutans are confiscated from illegal captivity, the rescue and rehabilitation station of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) is the first stop on their way to freedom. The station is located in the drinking water protection area of the town of Medan and is adjacent to a nature reserve. The local farmers use the surrounding seedling nurseries to provide a wide range of fruit and vegetables as food for the orangutans.


When arriving at the rescue and rehabilitation station, each orangutan is isolated in a separate enclosure for the duration of the medical examination and treatment. They are observed during a short acclimatisation period to see if they have any noticeable physical or mental health problems. After a week the animals are drugged, measured and given an extensive medical examination. This ensures that only healthy orangutans are set free. If a disease is transmitted with pathogens coming from human contacts, this could lead to an entire wild population being wiped out. The employees at the rescue and rehabilitation station therefore comply with strict hygiene regulations and take precautionary measures.

Babies and young animals are reared in a special «baby house» in the stations area until they are ready to be reintroduced to the wild at the age of three to five years.


As soon as the orangutans have completed the approximately three-week quarantine period and are considered healthy, they are brought together with other animals. For some of them, this is the first contact they have had for many years with members of the same species. The process of getting to know each other begins in the so-called socialisation cage. Animals which, on account of their size and character, are expected to get on well with each other are taken individually to adjacent enclosures. They can communicate with each other through the bars without any risk of injury. Their behaviour is precisely observed before a decision is made whether to bring them together. Either individually or in pairs, a socially compatible group is then gradually set up. Living together with members of the same species helps them learn essential survival strategies for their later life in the rainforest.