Wild Orangutan Was Hiding Something So Sad Inside Her Body

This happens all the time — but she's finally getting help.

Most wild orangutans are terrified when people get close to them, even if they’re just trying to help. But when rescuers encountered a 10-year-old orangutan named Punti, she didn’t seem nearly as frightened as she should be.

Earlier this month, rescuers from the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) traveled to a community-run farm in Sumatra, Indonesia, after receiving complaints that Punti had been eating the crops. Unfortunately, it’s common for farmers to injure or even kill orangutans who trespass on their land, so the OIC team hurried to rescue Punti as soon as possible.

Rescuers helping orangutan on Sumatran plantation

Sure enough, when they first spotted her, she was eating fruit from one of the farmers’ sago palms.

“We conducted a standard procedure of rescue,” Panut Hadisiswoyo, founder of OIC, told The Dodo. “The rescue itself was not really hard as she was not afraid of humans and did not try to escape from our team.”

Rescuers and vet helping orangutan

Based on Punti’s behavior, the OIC team came to suspect that Punti had previously been kept in captivity as someone’s pet, but they can’t know for sure.

With Punti safely sedated, the OIC team did a brief medical check on her, but only found small cuts on her chest. Afterwards, they took her to a rehabilitation center run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), where she was given a more comprehensive medical check. This time, they took X-rays — and everyone got a big surprise at the results.

Orangutan covering her head in cage

“During the procedure, we saw two air rifle bullets,” Yenny Saraswati, a vet at SOCP, told The Dodo. “The bullets were in deep … one bullet was under her jaw and the other was in her chest.”

While no one knows how, when or even why Punti was shot, Hadisiswoyo has a couple theories.

X-Ray showing bullets in chest and jaw of orangutan
An X-Ray showing bullets in Punti's jaw and chest | SOCP

“She may have gotten shot by air rifle bullets when she was caught for captivity,” Hadisiswoyo said. “Or she was shot while she was roaming in the community farmland and crop raiding.”

According to a post on SOCP’s Facebook page, Punti has also started displaying “traumatic behavior,” although Saraswati added that Punti hasn’t shown any aggression and is generally friendly toward people.

Closeup of orangutan's face

Thankfully, Punti’s bullet wounds are healing quite well, and everyone is hopeful that she’ll make a full recovery. She will also need to learn some more survival skills, especially since it's possible that she lived in captivity for a while.

“Hopefully, Punti will recover and get the chance to live in the wild soon,” SOCP said in its Facebook post.

To help Punti get back to the wild, and to help other orangutans like her, you can make a donation to OIC and SOCP.