At the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) in Central Indonesian Borneo, OFI (Orangutan Foundation International) staff provide milk for the older orangutans in OFI’s care. Caregiver Ibu Tuti always looks forward to her encounters with orangutan Robina or “cantik (beautiful) Robina” as she calls her. Indeed a beauty, Robina’s light ginger locks are long and flowing. Her pale coloured lips and eyelids bring out her dark, enchanting eyes.

Robina has come a long way since arriving at the OFI Care Center when she was around 5 years old. Even at such a young age, she was already strong and uncooperative with the Care Center’s veterinarians when they tried to examine her. She initially suffered a cough and bouts of lethargy. Eventually after treatment, Robina bounced back, fully ready to take on her new life.

2018_02_01_forest_ps_030_robina_wmRobina has always enjoyed her daily trips to the Learning Forest. And now she is nearing the time when she will be released into the wild. During forest school, Robina sets out amongst her peers, clambering together in one tree, sometimes up to four at a time. Robina will even let younger orangutans use her as a makeshift branch bridge as they climb over her! She enjoys spending time with Marsha and also wrestling with Lumley with whom she occasionally shares a sleeping enclosure. Not all orangutans get along though! Uci makes it her business to chase Robina off when she sees her. But no great loss, as Robina can take a hint and is happier amongst the trees anyway, propping herself between two branches or wrapping herself around a thick old tree as she gazes into the canopy.

Spending some time on the boardwalk as she contemplates where to go next, Robina stays mentally active before initiating her next round of exercise. She gracefully uses her body weight to make thinner trees sway to her bidding, as she travels to the next tree. This seems to amuse her greatly as she leads caregiver Pak Manto on a merry dance around the Learning Forest. She is fascinated by the stems of tree branches, pulling them apart so she can chew on the succulent innards. She moves on climbing up and down tree trunks in search of ants with a keen eye. She is always on the hunt for new nests. She often ends her adventures in forest school with big red biting ants crawling on her hands.

Back inside her sleeping enclosure, Robina often lazes inside one of the blue barrels, protected from the heat of the sun. Sometimes she will hold onto four passion fruits, one in each hand, to tide her over in the evening before she goes to sleep. Of the daily enrichment provided, she most enjoys the wicker balls that are filled with treats like peanuts and sunflower seeds. Such enrichment is made even more rewarding and mentally-stimulating when tied up with long blades of grass and hung from posts away from the enclosure. The orangutans are given sticks to hook the balls closer. In the wild, orangutans also use tools, often learning how to use them in social settings by observing their peers.

Robina has become quite an expert with enrichment, while some of her peers still need a bit more practice. She has her own uses for the stems of the green branches that are delivered to the sleeping enclosures at day’s end. After removing the leaves from a branch, she uses it to try and scoop up any fruits she has noticed drop to the ground near her enclosure. With any luck, she’ll find one of her favorites, rambutan! The rest of the green branches keep her busy as she sorts through them, buries herself, or makes a nice little nest out of them. A dynamite combination of looks and brains, Robina doesn’t bore easily. Active and engaged, she is naturally equipped with the skills to make it on her own. The ants of the rainforest better watch out for her!

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One Comment

  • Kathleen
    2018-08-16 at 3:12 pm

    Robina is one of the most beautiful orangutans I have ever seen (Christa too!). This post is written with such love. I enjoyed the way you describe Robina in the trees “…she gracefully uses her body weight to make thinner trees sway to her bidding.” I can imagine her doing what must come naturally to her.

    Thank you for giving Robina the opportunity to do as she chooses, to explore, and to feast on what she loves — especially when hidden in enrichment toys!

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