Bujing the orangutan’s world shattered into pieces when he only a little baby.
Poachers mercilessly killed his mother in front of his eyes and took Bujing into captivity, with the sole intention of selling him into the pet trade. An Indonesian couple who supposedly claimed to “love animals” bought Bujing for 500,00 rupiahs (about $35 USD).
Upon taking Bujing the couple took care of him like a human baby, bathing him and feeding him milk. But once he started to get bigger, he turned out to be a real challenge. In the end, they totally gave up and chained him to the outside of their house.
After this, his owners no longer bothered to feed him and so he was compelled to steal food from the neighbours.
One particular excursion to the neighbour’s house gave him two deep wounds on his back, probably caused by a sharp object.
“At the time Bujing had not eaten for three weeks and the owner had treated his wounds with tobacco as traditional medicine,” International Animal Rescue (IAR), the group that helped save Bujing, said in a statement when they first found him. “Though the wounds have now closed, there is still visible inflammation.”
Finally, in 2014, word reached the local forestry department and a team from IAR. They rushed to his aid, after which Bujing’s life took a turn for the better.
“The rescue team was very alarmed at the condition of the orangutan,” IAR said in a statement. “Bujing was chained to the side-chained to the side of the house. He looked very thin and had no hair due to malnutrition which had also impaired his growth.”
It was fortunate that help arrived at the right moment. Anytime later would have claimed Bujing’s life.
“Bujing was extremely malnourished and emaciated,” Lis Key, PR and communications manager for IAR, told The Dodo. “It’s hard to imagine that he could have survived for very much longer in that condition.”
“While we’re relieved to have removed him from his shocking situation, it’s upsetting to think of him living like that for so long,” Key added.
The rescue team reasoned with the owners regarding the illegality of keeping Bujing as a pet, and the couple willingly gave Bujing up. After this, Bujing was transported to IAR’s rehabilitation centre.
“As the transport cage was not permitted on the boat, Bujing travelled [outside the cage] as a passenger with our rescue team,” IAR said. “He is very accustomed to humans so was very calm and well-behaved, wrapping himself in a blanket to keep warm.”
The IAR team started helping him to recover once he was comfortable in the rehab centre.
“Bujing was first put in quarantine, which is standard procedure for all new arrivals at our rehabilitation centre,” Key said. “He was kept there for eight weeks while tests were run to ensure he wasn’t suffering from any contagious diseases. During that time he received nutritious food and supplements to improve his very poor physical condition. His feeding regime had to be carefully regulated because he was in such a severe state of malnourishment.”
Fast forward to four years. Bujing is now completely different. He’s a confident and healthy orangutan.
“Thanks to the care of our veterinary team and the keepers at our rehabilitation centre, Bujing’s appearance has changed almost beyond recognition,” Key said. “His body is strong, muscular — and hairy!”
The IAR team have plans to release Bujing back into the wild as soon as possible, but before that, they have to prep him to live in the wild, Key said.
“He will be ready for release once he is consistently displaying all the natural behaviours he will need to survive in the wild,” Key said. “A team is currently monitoring him and gathering data on his behaviour, and his progress is under constant assessment to make sure he will be fully equipped mentally and physically for life back in the forest.”
When Bujing does finally step into his natural home, everyone will celebrate.
“Bujing is making excellent progress on his lengthy journey back to his rightful home in the rainforest, and it is really uplifting to see how well he is doing,” Key said.
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