Saturday, 6 June 2009

Letters: Return orangutans to their mothers

Letters: Return orangutans to their mothers

Mon, 06/01/2009 12:57 PM | Reader's Forum The Jakarta Post

I find the article about Taman Safari Indonesia safari park seeking adoptive parents for four baby orangutans (The Jakarta Post, May 3) very troubling and sad. There are enough orphaned baby orangutans in rescue and rehabilitation centers without the zoo artificially creating four more orphans.

Orangutans share 97.5 percent of the same genes that humans have.

Unfortunately, they lack the ability to speak a language that humans can understand, but it is well-known that female orangutans and their babies share the same intense bond that human mothers and babies have for one another.

As in humans; the forced separation of a mother from her baby causes a great deal of anguish, a sense of loss, pain, longing and depression for both.

An orangutan baby nursing from its mother gains, from her milk, a resistance to various illnesses and diseases that cannot be gained from being raised by humans. The intense bond between an orangutan and her baby lasts approximately eight years during which the mother teaches her baby invaluable lessons on surviving in the rainforest.

Where to find food and when, what is safe to eat and what isn't safe, what branches will hold their weight and which ones won't, how to make a nest and how to react to and socialize with other orangutans are just a few of life's lessons that a mother orangutan teaches her baby.

Humans make a very poor substitute for an orangutan mother, her love, attention and training.

The safari park manager states that the baby orangutans have been separated from their mothers "to speed up the growth of the orangutan population." Orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centers are already overflowing with orphaned orangutans and orangutans ready to be released back into the rain forest but with no place to release them, so I see little purpose and little to gain from intentionally creating yet four more artificial orphans.

The reason orangutans are endangered is not because of a breeding problem, but rather one of habitat loss. Speeding up the growth of the orangutan population as Taman Safari Indonesia would have us to believe they are doing, does nothing but contribute to the problem of more orangutans than there are places for them to live in the wild.

The baby orangutans should be returned to their real mothers as soon as possible, not "adopted" by humans who will give them nothing that their own mothers can give them! Like human mothers, the orangutan mothers will recognize their own babies and be happy to have them back and yes, orangutans do feel and show happiness along with all the other emotions we humans feel!

Dave Weidman