7 min read

Orangutan Put In Tiny Cage As A Baby Grows Too Big To Get Out The Door

Krismon the orangutan waited an incredible 19 years for his rescue.

Back in 1997, Krismon was sold into captivity after his mother was killed in front of him. He was given to a member of the Indonesian military.

For the first few months, the army official's family treated the infant ape like a human baby, keeping him in the house and playing with him.

But, as often happens, when the little orphan began to grow up, the novelty wore off. The family, perhaps realizing that they couldn't handle the soon-to-be adolescent, decided to lock him up.

Krismon was placed in a narrow metal cage in the family's yard. But while the young orangutan easily fit through the tiny square door when he was first locked up, after languishing outside for month after month without love or care, he soon grew too big to fit back out again.

And that's where he was found nearly two decades later.

"The tiny door became too small for him after he grew big," the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) wrote on Facebook. "He was locked there for many years."

The army official passed away last year, and OIC had "persistently investigated" the situation since then. Last month, in conjunction with the Natural Resource Conservation Agency, OIC was finally able to rescue Krismon from his rusting prison.

Now a full-grown male orangutan, Krismon barely had room to move around. Though orangutans are arboreal, he couldn't climb. He could barely even lie down to rest.

He also appeared to have been tethered around his neck at one point and had survived mostly on rice, the OIC told a blog called Changing Times. The family also reportedly had a female infant orangutan who died.

"I am still shocked that such a big orangutan was being kept in such a small cage," Panut Hadisiswoyo, director of the OIC, told the blog. "It is horrifying."

Unfortunately Krismon isn't alone in his sad plight. Each year thousands of wild babies are stolen away from their mothers, who are often killed just so their infants can be sold into the exotic pet trade, where they face poor care and often outright abuse. In other cases, the infants may be used for meat or traditional medicine.

Just last week, an orangutan was rescued in Thailand after his owner realized he couldn't care for him. The man turned in the orangutan's "belongings" to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand along with the ape - and they included things like children's clothing, bags of candy and a go-kart.

Though more and more people are realizing the horrors these animals face as pets, there are many who support the pet trade - even if they're well-meaning.

"When we took Krismon away, the family members were all crying," Hadisiswoyo told the blog. "People have a total misconception about what it is to love an orangutan. I tried to explain to them that this is not the way to care for a wild animal."

But Krismon's many years of waiting are finally at an end. He was transferred to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, where he will be assessed and treated. If he's able to be rehabilitated, he may return to the wild; if not, he'll finally have a safe home through the center.

In any case, Krismon will finally be able to run and climb, and do all the natural things he wasn't able to experience during his 19 years behind that tiny rusted door.

"Now Krismon is in safe hands," OIC wrote. "[He] has much better space."

If you'd like to help orangutans rescued from the illegal pet trade, you can make a donation to International Animal Rescue, which runs an orphanage and rescue center for orangutans like Krismon.