5 min read

Baby Orangutan Waited In This Cage For Someone To Save Him

Jelapat more than likely lost his mother in a forest fire - or perhaps she was killed. Either way, the baby orangutan was found along the banks of Indonesia's Barito River in the Central Kalimantan region last December, alone and weak, according to a blog post by the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation.

A local saw the struggling orangutan and decided to take him home - to keep him as a pet.

Jelapat lived in a small cage along a public roadside in his owner's village. He wore clothing, as if he were a human baby, rather than a wild animal who had been unfortunately displaced.

"This must have been a terrifying experience for the young male," the BOS Foundation wrote. "He was given leftover rice and side dishes to eat."

The BOS Foundation heard about the illegal ownership from a member of the organization's communications team, who came across a Facebook photo of Jelapat in his cage.

A rescue team was immediately sent out to the location where Jelapat reportedly lived.

Once officials explained to Jelapat's owner why he could not be kept as a pet, he was given to the organization and transferred to BOS Foundation's Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center. The orangutan, estimated to be a year old, showed no fear toward his rescuers - more than likely a result of being held captive and exposed to humans over an extended period of time.

Both species of orangutans are critically endangered and are losing their homes and lives due to to deforestation and fires from the palm oil industry - but also, a lack of awareness, as in Jelapat's case.

"A recent study suggested that 27 percent of the people in Kalimantan did not know that orangutans are protected by law," the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states. "Campaigns to effectively inform the public and encourage rural people to support the principles of environmental conservation and be actively responsible for the management of their resources are therefore a crucial requirement for successful orangutan conservation."

At the rehabilitation center, Jelapat will join other orphaned orangutans like himself and learn survival skills he would have otherwise picked up from his mother. Although his start to life was rough, Jelapat finally has a chance to live the way he was meant to - among his own kind, and not locked up.

Want to help the BOS Foundation continue doing good work for animals in need? Consider making a donation here.

Watch this video about a special little rescue orangutan named Asoka: