Joyful Journeys: Orphaned Baby Orangutans Delighted to Ride in Wheelbarrows to Forest School

We don’t wanna walk like you-oo-oo! Orang-utans are happy to be wheeled around in a barrow at rescue centre after they are freed from captivity

As any parent will know, getting a toddler to walk any great distance is nigh on impossible, especially when a pushchair is close at hand.

And judging by these pictures, baby orang-utans are no different, insisting on being pushed around in a wheelbarrow by rescue workers instead of walking from their beds to a special ‘school’ where they are trained to survive in the wild.

The hairy creatures, who live at an animal centre in Indonesia, must make the trip twice a day, in the morning and evening, in order to learn skills such as nest building, foraging, climbing and hiding.

School run: Every morning these young orang-utans are taken from their sleeping quarters at a rescue centre in Indonesia to a special ‘school’ where they learn skills to help them survive in the wild

Easy rider: The barrows are used to carry up to 11 of the young primates into the jungle where they will learn skills such as foraging, nest building, climbing and hiding – before bringing them back in the evening

But rather than walk the distance, the primates instead pile into one of the centre’s wheelbarrows, which can carry up to 11 of the furry animals at a time.

Lis Key, a spokesman for International Animal Rescue, which runs the centre, said: Human toddlers often protest at walking any great distance – and orang-utans are no different.

‘So wheelbarrows are used to speed up the process, enabling the vets and carers of the orang-utans to ferry them from their night cages out into the forest in a fraction of the time it would take to carry them or walk with them.

‘Inevitably this does involve the occasional thrills and spills. Some individuals sit quietly and enjoy the ride, others opt to bail out early, particularly on the return journey if they’re not too keen on going home to bed.

‘But most seem to enjoy the ride, though some cling tightly to each other with a somewhat anxious expression.’

Hard work: Staff at this International Animal Rescue centre, located in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, get through around 80 barrows a year, as they are prone to rust in the humid jungle and the wheels often break on the rough track

Saved: A spokesman for the animal charity said there are around 80 orang-utans at the centre, most of which are youngsters rescued from captivity after being kept as pets

However, Ms Key added that the centre gets through around 80 wheelbarrows per year as the humid Indonesian climate leads to rust, and the bumpy jungle track wears the wheels out.

She added: ‘The wheelbarrows don’t last long on the bumpy tracks at the orang-utan centre and in the Indonesian humidity.

‘So we’re constantly appealing for more funds to buy new wheelbarrows. It’s no fun pushing a barrow full of primates around with a flat tyre, that’s for sure.’

The majority of the orang-utans are brought to the centre as children, having been kept as pets in captivity before being rescued.

Located in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, in the Indonesian part of Borneo, the centre aims to equip the animals with the necessary skills to one day be released back into the jungle.

Growing up: At first the primates are taken to ‘baby school’ where they learn to climb and play with other orang-utans, before graduating to ‘forest school’ where they will learn more advanced survival skills

Naughty, naughty: While the orang-utans are usually happy to ride along in the wheelbarrows, staff said some do try to jump out – especially on the way back in the evening if they don’t want to go to bed

Ms Key added: ‘These orang-utans are brought into the IAR centre for veterinary treatment and rehabilitation. It can take years for these animals to develop the skills and the strength they need to survive in the forest.

‘In the meantime they progress form baby school, where babies and very young infants learn to climb and play with other young orang-utans, on to forest school.

‘Here older infants are given more freedom to behave as they would in the wild, foraging for food, building nests and even sleeping out in the forest overnight if they so choose.’


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