CREATIVE WORK FOR THE WELLBEING OF THE ORANGUTANS
Every day our team at the rescue and rehabilitation station on Sumatra keeps the orangutans busy with self-made toys.
Orangutans need to be kept busy. In the wild, they are always looking for food and adequate sleeping places. In our station, staff have to provide for species-appropriate and useful activities. In our orangutan conservation program we train the orangutans by giving them individual tasks. This shall help them to develop the necessary skills for survival in the rainforest. We also support them in developing their intelligence and also keep them motivated- so that they are mentally challenged and do not get bored in the cages.
In March, the employees of the rescue and rehabilitation station created several toys in a workshop, which are now presented to the orangutans one by one. This workshop was inspired by our vet team. They wanted to introduce ideas from other stations and zoos and discussed them with the local animal keepers. Some examples of the new enrichments: the orangutans need to pick food from a log, something that is only possible with skill and patience. Or they need to use both hands to pick fruit out of a custom-made box. The orangutans get rewarded with a delicious snack, which is worth the effort. And as a side effect, successful food search, skill and patience get trained.
Not only young orangutans are motivated to learn in this way. Also older orangutans who cannot be released into the wild due to a physical disability or health issues benefit from this activity. These tools are individually adapted to each animal according to age and experience. At the moment there are a total of 56 orangutans in our station, 7 of them are permanent patients.
So we need quite a few tools!