E y e s   o n  t h e   F o r e s t
A   M o n t h l y   B u l l e t i n   f r o m   B o r n e o  -  A p r i l  2 0 1 2

eyes in the forest



OFI family unites across the globe to nourish our hairy foster 'children'


Feeding a large family is never easy. But when that family includes hundreds of hungry orangutans with big appetites, 'meal time' becomes a daily epic adventure to provide a steady supply of the nutrients, calories and variety that are essential to raising healthy great apes.


Most of the orphans that come to our Care Center are three years old or younger, prime milk-drinking age. Often malnourished by the time they arrive, these babies never seem to get enough, guzzling bottle after bottle of fortified milk from their surrogate mothers' hands and transforming their tiny sunken stomachs into plump, watermelon-bellies. To give their fragile immune systems the best fighting chance, we boost their diets with multi-vitamins, baby porridge, and other supplements. Today, we have sixty-three milk-drinking baby orangutans in our nursery, pushing our annual milk bill to more than $10,000 USD. Never mind the milk that we still give out at our forest feeding stations to released ex-captive orangutans! Please remember that in the wild, orangutan juveniles sometimes suckle their mothers until they are 7 or 8 years old.


While milk is essential to a good start in life, orangutans are best known for being voracious eaters of ripe fruit; scientific field records indicate they consume over 250 species of wild fruit in primary forest. As our babies mature here at the Care Center, fruits and vegetables are introduced into their diets, and they join the Center's other fruit-munchers. OFI feeds 340 orphan orangutans at the Care Center as well as over 200 released orangutans who sometimes return to the feeding stations at our release sites. This is where the real challenge begins. 


The search for and purchase, transport, and distribution of more than 200,000 pounds of food per year is truly a monumental team effort. First, cultivated and wild fruit needs to be located somewhere in the area. While OFI maintains agreements with many local village growers, including a women's co-operative that provides bananas and other regular crops, the availability of most fruit is determined by the seasonality of the tropics. Our "fruit scouts" are always on the lookout for fresh pineapples, rambutans, and durian. In a year's time, orangutans in our care will consume more than 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including the occasional wild fruit sourced from the forest.


To move thousands of pounds of fresh food from farms, gardens, and remote villages to the Care Center, a full-time crew of drivers and two very well-worn trucks is constantly on the move, loading up mounds of papayas, melons, mangoes, etc. and unloading sacks of sweet corn, cucumbers, yams, etc. At the Care Center our orangutan caregivers distribute the harvest to their charges three times a day, some of whom (like 8-year-old Lawrence), can eat up to 20 pounds of mangoes in a single day! Even in Borneo, mangoes aren't cheap! Keeping hundreds of hungry fruit consumers like Lawrence and his orange friends nourished costs approximately $250,000 per year, which goes directly into the local economy.


Feeding Station in the ForestLike many full-grown human children, some of our rehabilitated orangutans released into the forest over the past three decades still depend on us for an occasional helping hand. About half of the 400+ orangutans we've released over the years continue to return to their original release sites where they know they can find supplementary nutrition when needed. OFI maintains forest-based feeding platforms in seven active and former sites for this purpose. Keeping these far-flung stations supplied with weekly fruit, as well as staffed and maintained, is a challenging but important endeavor since human development pressure surrounding our forest release sites limits orangutans' range and puts added pressure on the remaining forest habitat that naturally supports their diet. (Join us for feeding time in the forest!)

Good food and plenty of it is clearly key to keeping the

orangutans in our care healthy and happy; our round-the-clock 'kitchen' would not be possible without your kind support. Many thanks!


Janie Dubman
Newsletter Editor


 In this Issue

  • Feeding our OFI family of orangutans
  • Orangutan of the Month: Victor
  • Upcoming OFI Events: Lecture and Benefit Concert
  • Jungle Corner: Rafflesia arnoldii
  • News from the Field: 'Born to be Wild' film producer shows movie at Care Center
  • Earth Balance helps orangutans go wild!



 Meet Victor! He's a gentle and inquisitive orangutan who loves to snack on termite nests and knows how to pick his friends.


UCLA Lecture
"Seeing Red"
Dr. Galdikas introduces an audience to orangutans, palm oil, and sustainability.
April 19th


OFI CONCERT & DVD Release Party 
April 22nd
Babes in a Basket at OCCQ  

A Musical Celebration of Earth Day and the DVD release of the award-winning IMAX film,

 "Born to be Wild"  


Please Join Us!





News from the Field

Drew Fellman, 'Born to be Wild' producer, visits the OFI Care Center to screen the IMAX film for staff and orangutans
Devoted OFI Enrichment Intern represents OFI at international conference, and speaks about cooperative feeding in orangutans  



Jungle Corner

Rafflesia arnoldii


Taxonomy: Plantae; Malpighiales; Rafflesiaceae; RafflesiaRafflesia arnoldii


Threat Status: Not yet assessed on the IUCN Red List


Distribution: Borneo and Sumatra


Ecology: The Rafflesia arnoldii flowers are unisexual, so the proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination (which makes successful pollination rare). The plant emits a foul smell of rotting meat, which attracts flies and beetles to pollinate. To pollinate successfully, the flies and beetles must visit both the male and female plants.


Habitat: The Rafflesia arnoldii is found in primary and secondary forests.


Morphology: Rafflesia arnoldii is a parasitic plant that does not have roots or leaves. The plant is often unobserved because it lives inside the woody stems and roots of its host. The plant is generally only visible when it flowers, and has the largest known individual flower in the world. Each flower can be up to 1m (3.3ft) in diameter and weigh up to 11kg (24lb). The flesh of the flower is reddish-brown with white spots. It takes the Rafflesia arnoldii months to develop, and once the flower blooms, it only lasts for a few days.


Interesting Fact: The Rafflesia arnoldii  flower buds are used for traditional medicine. They are used to promote delivery and recovery after childbirth. The Rafflesia arnoldii is also known as the "Corpse Flower" because of the foul smell it emits.



Conservation Partners


Making a Difference through Corporate Responsibility:

Earth Balance Teams Up with OFI to Help Orangutans Go Wild!  


With a generous donation of $10,000 earlier this year, Earth Balance became an official corporate sponsor, supporter, and partner in OFI's ongoing initiative to return 330 wild-born, ex-captive rehabilitated orangutans back to the wild, into biologically-rich, protected forest where they rightfully belong. This new partnership is a natural for Earth Balance, a Colorado-based leader in the natural foods industry, the creator of a wide-variety of award-winning plant-based vegan food products, and a strong advocate for corporate environmental responsibility.  


In March, Earth Balance kicked off a brand new, consumer-based fundraising initiative in support of OFI at the Natural Products Expo West event held in Anaheim, California, as well as a new campaign to raise awareness about the serious problems palm oil production creates for endangered orangutans in tropical rainforest regions, including Borneo and Sumatra. These problems include deforestation, habitat loss, and the harming of orangutans and other wildlife.  


"Earth Balance is firmly committed to sustainable sourcing, and we believe in the power of informed consumers to change the world for the better. We are educating our suppliers about ways to safeguard the rainforest through sustainable palm oil sourcing, and we're educating our customers about how they can have a direct positive impact by exclusively purchasing responsibly sourced palm oil products."


Click here to read more about how Earth Balance is taking steps for sustainable palm oil and supporting OFI's orangutan conservation work.


Thank you, Earth Balance!    


For more information on ways your organization or business can partner with OFI, please contact Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund, Development Director, at  [email protected].  


Babes in a Basket at OCCQ


"Born to be Wild," featuring OFI and Dr. Birut� Galdikas, wins prestigious 2012 Genesis Award!


Dr. Birut� Galdikas interviewed by CNN


Each year, The Genesis Awards pays tribute to the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works to raise public awareness of animal issues. The only award show of its kind, The Genesis Awards is sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States.


Thank you very much for  following "Eyes on the Forest - Bulletin from Borneo". From now on you can expect this eNewsletter to reach your mailbox monthly.  We'd love to have your thoughts, comments or submissions ([email protected]). In the meanwhile, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our official website: www.orangutan.org   
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