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  -  M a y  2 0 1 3

eyes in the forest




Helping Orangutans Return to the Wild Through Holistic Environmental Enrichment


Few things are as satisfying as successfully releasing a wild-born, ex-captive, orphan orangutan back to the wild. Before that can happen, young orphans must be carefully raised, nurtured and taught. Caring for more than 340 orangutans in our Care Center & Quarantine (OCCQ) is an expensive, 24/7 effort, requiring vast quantities of food, medical supplies, equipment and trained personnel. It costs more than $2,600 USD to care for one orangutan for one year. Because of the intense orangutan mother-infant bond, orphaned babies need our surrogate maternal help until they reach at least eight years of age.


Most orphans come to our Care Center emotionally, physically, and mentally wounded, frequently suffering from injuries, malnutrition, and lack of care. Many require long-term medical treatment. All need to be fed and cared for, taught how to forage for fruit, and encouraged to build treetop night nests for sleeping.  And they all need daily enrichment activity and enrichment materials. These materials are produced and delivered by trained, skilled staff to ensure orangutan social, cognitive, physical and sensory well-being, and enhance successful return to the wild. 


Baby orangutan smelling flower
A fragrant adventure. Smelling the flowers and stimulating the senses in OFI's Enrichment Forest.

For our rehabilitant orangutans trips to the forest are a critical part of their enrichment program; forest excursions occur almost daily for the able-bodied orangutan residents of the Care Center and the nine outlying field facilities.  For most of the day they are free to explore, forage, and play while completing the most critical aspect of their rehabilitation process--learning how to survive in the wild. They climb through the understory, sampling different wild foods and building small day nests under the watchful eye of caregivers who monitor and record their behavior and interactions, and measure each orangutan's progress towards independence and eventual release.


While OFI's primary form of enrichment is to take orangutans to the enrichment forest and to the large jungle-gym facilities, all orangutans need to spend some time within their sleeping enclosures due to the nature of the situation. For example, sexually mature males and females cannot go to the forest at the same time because the females might become pregnant before they return to the wild. Some large adult males cannot go for safety reasons; sick or injured orangutans must be confined until they are healthy; and no orangutans can stay out in the forest over night as the enrichment forest is surrounded by an expanding urban population.


Ladder swing being built
OFI Enrichment Volunteer helps staff build new enclosures and climbing ladder.

It is extremely important, therefore, that OFI provide a mentally challenging environment for orangutans, as they progress through their long rehabilitation program, during times they spend within their enclosures. In addition, there are a few orangutan residents at the OCCQ who suffer from physical disabilities; these individuals require extra enrichment within their sleeping enclosures.


Providing appropriate enrichment within enclosures, and ensuring the quality of those enclosures (size and design), are

Fruit Parcel
'Enriched food' (fruit) wrapped in natural parcel made from forest vegetation.

critical in preventing fear, boredom, anxiety, depression, and abnormal behaviors, and for safeguarding the physical well-being of the OCCQ's orangutan residents. Treat-filled balls of rattan fibers, stimulating toys, food-finding/foraging games, creative use of natural materials from the forest, hanging, swinging and climbing apparatus, a wide variety of foods that offer new tastes, smells and textures, and many other enrichment materials and activities provide essential stimulation and learning. Moreover, well-designed enclosures provide convenient and safe access for the delivery and use of those enrichment items as well as sufficient space to help orangutans flourish while in temporary captivity.


New enclosure
A new, double-enclosure for sub-adult males at the Quarantine, one of 11 new enclosures recently built at the Care Center.

To accommodate our growing population of orangutans, we built 11 new, spacious and airy orangutan enclosures over the past year, and are building more today.  These enclosures are high off the ground with a concrete base to allow staff to clean underneath safely and thoroughly. This height enables orangutans to be a considerable distance above the ground as they would be in the wild. Swings, hammocks, barrels, tires, vine ropes and other enrichment items have been added.


A new water tower, new forest feeding platform, and 1.5 miles of boardwalk were also erected at Camp Rendell, OFI's new 'soft release' facility.  At the Care Center, we added a large, new jungle gym for our smallest infants. It includes ropes, hammocks, swings, tires, beams, and ladders, as well as a

Orangutan plays in barrel
Barrels of new fun!  Sturdy swings, platforms, and ladders, too, were added to orangutans' enclosures to keep them healthy and strong
suspended rope mezzanine level where the infant orangutans can climb or lay down. Its roof cover allows orangutan outings during hot, sunny days and in the pouring rain, ensuring maximum year-round usage.


The process of rescuing, rehabilitating, and repatriating orangutans requires a broad spectrum of specialized care and a comprehensive program of environmental enrichment activity capable of meeting the changing needs of orangutans over time: from helpless infant, to dependent juvenile, and to independent adult. It also includes orangutans with special needs regardless of age.


We call it "Eat, Play, Learn." It's a simple yet powerful enrichment program that is helping orangutans return to the wild with the skills and vigor they need to survive and thrive.    


Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund   

Director of Development


                                We need your help! 



In this Issue
  • Orangutan of the Month: Daring Dominique
  • News from the Field: "Cute Faces, Dark Realities (Part One)"
  • OFI's Foster Program is Better Than Ever!
  • Jungle Corner: 

    Rufous-collared Kingfisher

  • Conservation Partners: Special Thanks to our Fundraising Partners in Canada & Philadelphia 
  • Upcoming Events:
    In New York and Beverly Hills; Summer EcoTours


of the Month: 
Daring Dominique
Follow Dominique's charming antics and fun-loving games. Click on photo to read more



Upcoming Events

Please Join 

Dr. Birut� Mary Galdikas, Guest Speaker



Sunday, November 10th

Beverly Hills, CA 
Special Fundraising Event

Tuesday, November 12th

New York, NY

Dr. Galdikas speaks at 

The Natural History Museum with Sir David Attenborough!

Click Here for Details

Wednesday, November 13th
New York, NY
Special Fundraising Event


Please Join 
Dr. Galdikas on a Summer EcoTour!

June 24: 2 spaces available
June 30: 1 space available

For More Info Contact: 



News from the Field


Cute Faces, Dark Realities (Part One)

By Emily Patton

Communications Volunteer


Babes in a Basket at OCCQ Look at these infant orangutans. What are the first thoughts that come into your head?  My guess is that your reaction is something like, "So cute!" or "I want to cuddle them!" Maybe you're even thinking, "I want one!"


Unfortunately, the charms that orangutans and other primates possess push too many people to take their instinctual reactions to extremes. Read more.


 OFI's Orangutan Foster Program is Better than Ever!


Over the past few months, our staff and volunteers have been working hard to update and improve OFI's Orangutan Foster Program--writing new biographies, collecting new stories and photographs from the field, and creating beautiful new Foster Kits! 


Foster your favorite orangutan today! Every dollar raised through this program helps to pay for the food, medicine, shelter, enrichment, and loving care our orangutans need. Please visit our website to learn more.



Jungle Corner 


 Rufous-collared Kingfisher

Actenoides concretus



Taxonomy: Animalia; Chordata; Aves; Coraciiformes; Alcedinidae


Threat Status: Near threatened (on the IUCN Red List)   


Distribution: Brunei, Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra, Java), Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular), Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand


Ecology: As the name implies, the rufous-collared kingfisher's diet consists of fish; however, they also eat arthropods such as insects, scorpions, snails, small snakes, and lizards. They hunt by diving off low perches, snatching their prey off the ground or from the water.


Habitat: The rufous-collared kingfisher is generally found in the subtropical and tropical moist lowland or montane forests. This species will usually dig nest burrows in earthen banks, but have also been known to build nests in rotten tree trunks.


Morphology: Rufous-collared kingfishers are medium-sized. They measure 22.9 to 24.1cm (9 to 9.5in) in length and weigh between 59.5 and 90.7g (2.1 to 3.2oz). They have a green crown and reddish-brown (rufous) coloring on and below the collar. There is sexual dimorphism between males and females - males have a blue back and females have a buff-spotted green back.


Interesting Fact: The Rufous-collared kingfisher was once native to Singapore; however, it is now regionally extinct.


Conservation Partners


Many Thanks to our Canadian Friends and Partners for 
Raising More Than $120,000 
To Support OFI's Orangutan Care Center & Quarantine!
Something wonderful happened on April 27th and 28th in Calgary, Canada! More than $120,000 USD was raised by a small group of volunteers who came together over the past six months to carefully plan and masterfully implement two amazing, back-to-back fundraising events featuring stories and presentations artfully delivered by Dr. Birut� Mary Galdikas. 
Day one included a major donor dinner event and auction, while day two brought more than 1,700 guests to the beautiful EPCOR Centre for 'Curious Orange?' -- a live presentation by Dr. Galdikas that featured award-winning IMAX footage from Born to be Wild.
Many, many thanks to event co-chairs Greg Epton and Jane Golubev and to Greg Robertson who worked tirelessly to ensure every detail--from beginning to end--was managed with the utmost care and professionalism. We thank our good friends at 'sister' organization Orangutan Foundation Canada and the EPCOR Centre, and the many corporate sponsors and volunteers who helped to make these events a resounding success! To you all we say this: Your kindness and generosity are beyond measure. THANK YOU!

'Philly Run Wild' Raises $23,000 for OFI 


Philly Run Wild Race Photo

On Sunday, April 28, 2013 more than 1,000 walkers and runners participated in Orangutan Foundation International's 1st Annual "Philly Run Wild-Save the Orangutans 5K Run/Walk" which took place on the beautiful grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and we had record-breaking crowds. 
Many thanks to our walkers, runners, volunteers, sponsors, and spectators, and a special thank you to local Event Directors Shannon Lynch and Jodi Lyon--you did an amazing job.
Many of our participants raised funds for OFI by asking their friends and family to sponsor them. All told, they raised more than $7,000. Our top fundraiser was Wendy Acheson ($1,945). Big dollars were also raised by Laura Woyak ($425), Rebecca Ade ($401), Holly Grose ($232), Evann Gastaldo ($225), Melissa Garren ($220)...and many others. Thank you all!
We sincerely appreciate and thank our major sponsors too, including: Earth Balance, Down Under Enterprises, AGI, Wild4Ever, and Phoenix Integration. And we appreciate donations of food, water, prizes and services from our many inkind sponsors.

Be sure to join us next year (April 2014) for our 2nd Annual Philly Run Wild benefit event. We'll keep you posted! Until then, THANK YOU EVERYONE!

For information on ways you or your business or organization can support OFI's work, please contact Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund, OFI Director of Development at [email protected]


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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 meantime, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our official website: www.orangutan.org   
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