Maybe we’re not supposed to have favorites but, just like with people, connections happen before you know it. That’s the way it was with Robbie. For reasons I’ll never know, this wonderful orangutan decided I was OK in his book.
Almost every day he would stop by to visit, always with a gentle touch, before moving on. His visits weren’t usually very long (he had lots of exploring to do in the forest!), but each visit was special to me, especially since everyone kept telling me this was not his usual demeanor. Robbie had a reputation among the Indonesian caretakers as a bit of a tough guy, so I was puzzled (and have to admit, honored) that he never showed that side of himself to me.
One of my most memorable visits from Robbie, caught on my camera by Mr. Hepi, was when he stopped by, casually leaned against the post next to me with one arm, leaned on my leg with the other arm, and looked into my eyes for what seemed like forever. He never broke eye contact, and neither did I. What an amazing and emotional experience! Just remembering and writing about it brings tears to my eyes. To say I was profoundly touched would be an understatement.
I doubt when I return to Borneo this year if this experience will be repeated, and a part of me is glad it won’t. You see, since leaving last Fall, Robbie and three of his buddies, formerly at the Care Center, have been moved to the new Lamandau Reserve where they are being reintroduced to the wild. This is what it’s all about – these rescue and rehabilitation efforts by OFI – to restore the health of orangutans like Robbie and ultimately return them to their real home, the rainforest. You can help other orangutans join Robbie and his friends by becoming a member of OFI and helping them in their efforts to preserve the ever-diminishing rainforest. Becoming a part of OFI, an organization that is making such a positive difference, is definitely a “feel-good” experience!
Robbie will always be special to me and I sure hope to see him again. I expect that if I do, however, it will be when I’m looking highup in the trees and Robbie is looking down on the human intruder. I wouldn’t have it any other way.