Luna looking at camera

I am so pleased that I was able to choose Luna as my first Orangutan of the Month. Luna is a very small, one-year-old orangutan who looks more like a newborn infant but with teeth! Luna first came to OFI’s Care Centre and Quarantine (OCCQ) in June. She was confiscated by the Forestry’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources from a palm oil plantation worker who was keeping her as a pet. Most likely, her mother was killed while in the plantation looking for food. Luna did not receive adequate nutrition resulting in stunted growth. She will likely always be smaller than orangutans her own age. She also likely suffered long-lasting emotional damage from the improper care she was given. Upon arrival at the OCCQ, Luna started receiving proper care and nutrition and has begun to flourish and grow – but she still has a long way to go.

I first met Luna at a playground near the nursery where the infant orangutans build strength, hone coordination, and improve climbing skills. I was surprised to notice that Luna had climbed to the very top of the structure and was the highest of all the youngsters! Her body is about half the size of the other infant orangutans so it did not take long for little Luna to tire from her excursion. While the other infant orangutans continued with their play, Luna was soon sound asleep in the arms of her caregiver.

Luna, orangutan of the month.

Luna spends most of her days at the nursery sleeping. Because she is so small, she does not have the energy that the other infant orangutans have. When the little ones are taken out to the forest, Luna usually goes along in a sling so she can sleep while her caregivers have their hands free for the other infants who require a lot of attention. On rainy days, she is wrapped in a blanket or sarong to keep her warm because she doesn’t have much hair or body fat. Most days she wakes only for her bottle of milk and a few rambutans and is quickly off to sleep again. Almost as soon as Luna falls asleep, she enters the deep sleep where rapid eye movement (REM) occurs. REM sleep is indicative of dreaming. As Luna sleeps on my chest, I wonder if she is dreaming about growing big and strong so she can return to the forest someday. Or perhaps she is dreaming of being back in her mother’s arms. Who knows? The important thing is that she is warm and safe and able to dream.

Luna the orangutan climbing.

Luna climbing on a beam

When Luna is awake, she is very alert and very aware of her surroundings. She doesn’t make much noise except for the occasional squeak when she thinks that she might be slipping from her caregiver’s grip or lip-smacking noises when she eats a treat of rice. Loud noises often startle her. She is not particularly fond of thunderstorms; she twitches and jumps awake during ground-shaking booms and cracks of thunder. Since part of her rehabilitation is for her to learn to do things on her own, she is sometimes placed in a laundry basket with blankets, stuffed animals, a bottle of milk, and some fruit so she can get what she needs herself. If she is feeling adventurous, she will climb out of the basket to have a look around, and when she has had enough, she climbs back down to the basket for a nap.

Luna sleeping

Luna sleeping again

Luna holds a special place in the hearts of staff and volunteers (including me). She receives medication daily under the watchful eyes of Dr. Prima and Dr. Popo, OFI’s veterinary staff, who closely monitor her progress. Her sweet, gentle face holds the promise of a bright future. Luna has a lot of catching up to do to but for now she has what she needs: a warm bottle of milk; a safe place to sleep; the chance to grow; and most importantly, love.

You can help Luna and other orangutans like her by fostering an orangutan.

Luna drinking milk

Luna the orangutan in a basket


  • Rebecca Reeder
    2011-08-12 at 3:32 pm

    Luna is so precious. She is a perfect example of the tragedy of the illegal pet trade. And Luna is one of the lucky ones who has survived and has some will to live. Thank you to everyone at the Care Center for your day in and day out hard work.

  • Mindy
    2011-08-12 at 11:13 pm

    Beautiful little girl! Thanks for sharing her story and lovely photos.

  • Georgina
    2011-08-13 at 12:10 am

    What a lovely little girl, I hope she gets all the care she needs. Good luck with the baby you guys get.

  • Rebecca
    2011-08-13 at 6:03 am

    Excellent article thank you. Please keep us update on Luna’s progress. thanks for all you do.

  • stefanie
    2011-08-13 at 6:40 am

    I know she is in safe hands, now! Thank God!!! So she can grow with your love and care. Thank you, OFI!!!!!

  • Mara McCaffery
    2011-08-13 at 7:15 am

    I’m so sad that there is another new baby since I left at the end of May – when will this stop! Thank you for sharing the story of this tiny little angel Luna – I know with all the love and care at the nursery she will grow strong and independent in time.

  • Cheryl Apel
    2011-08-13 at 9:41 am

    This story and the pictures of Miss Luna have warmed my heart like no other. Thank you for all you do. Your work is so much appreciated. Oh how I wish I could be working right by your side. Please give little Luna a long hug for me and tell her that she is loved.

    All My Best,
    Cheryl Apel

  • Linda Schildt Arvidson
    2011-08-13 at 2:16 pm

    What a lovely girl!! Adoreable!! Please get back with info about her progress….Love to Luna!!

  • Desiree
    2011-08-13 at 2:40 pm

    what a beautiful baby. Thanks for posting the article and pictures.

  • Monika Schertler
    2011-08-14 at 8:09 am

    Dear Britta,
    I am glad to see Luna in a better condition. I loved her so much, when I was a volunteer in the OCCQ and I was there, when she arrived. She is an such an adorable baby. Please give her a lot of love during your stay.

    Thank you, Monika

  • Marcia Douthwaite
    2011-08-15 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for the news and photos.Dear little Luna reminds me of the missing Luna from Sintang (Orangutan Outreach). How I miss her. I will be adopting this Luna and Mr. Bernie shortly. Thank you for your work on behalf of these wonderful orangs.

  • Anas
    2011-08-16 at 2:58 am

    I’ve seen luna … he is very funny …
    thanks for lovely photos.

  • lindsay and Jen
    2011-08-16 at 12:27 pm

    We love Orangutans. Thank you for the care you give them. When Lindsay grows up she would like to care for Orangutans too.

  • fahat azis
    2011-08-16 at 2:24 pm

    i love borneo

  • paulinus
    2011-08-17 at 7:59 am

    can i know wher luna come from? like village.
    love luna

  • fahat azis
    2011-08-17 at 8:04 am

    borneo ok

  • Angela Mendoza
    2011-08-23 at 6:42 pm

    shes so cute!
    i want to adopt her

  • Nicole Laurito
    2011-08-26 at 1:33 pm

    I love her 🙂 Thanks for all your hard work!! I hope to be back soon to help out more!

  • Nada
    2011-08-28 at 12:39 pm

    So beautiful. I was sad to see this was not the same Luna that went missing from Sintang. Wishing her much strength and love.

  • Lisa
    2011-09-12 at 2:16 am

    I have just returned home from Borneo and OCCQ for the third year in a row. It was a privilege to meet baby ‘Luna’ and spend time with her at the the OCCQ nursery. She is an absolute precious tiny treasure who makes your heart glow with love and affection for her. I can’t stop thinking about her. I will be back again next year and can’t wait to see her again and see how much she has grown and developed, thanks to the wonderful efforts of her loving caregivers at OCCQ and OFI. BIG HUGS for Luna! xx

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