Extremely rare albino orangutan rescued

30-05-2017

It is possibly the only albino orangutan in the world that was saved - and that with the help of Save the Orangutan. The albino orangutan was freed from a family who had kept it as a pet for a couple of days. The orangutan is being examined before it is set free in a secret rainforest area.

It is not every day you see an albino orangutan. In humans, one out of every 40-50.000 is born as albino, and if the same goes for orangutans, this may be the only albino orangutan in the world! It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 orangutans and last summer Borneo's orangutan was declared critically endangered by IUCN because of deforestation.

"We have no knowledge of previously discovered albino orangutans, and it is definitely the first albino orangutan we have helped save," explains Save the Orangutan's director Claus Staunstrup Nilsson. The organization supports the work of rescuing distressed orangutans through their Indonesian partner, BOS Foundation, and Save the Orangutan is the biggest donor to the world's largest rehabilitation center for orangutans. The center where the orangutan is currently in the process of getting help.

The albino orangutan was kept as a pet

It was a tip, the first saturday of May, from the police chief of the province of Kapua, located in the central part of Borneo, which alerted the rehabilitation center's rescue team about an albino orangutan being kept in a cage by locals. The rescue team immediately went out and rescued it, while the owner of the cage explained that he had found it in a cleared forest area a few days ago.

"Unfortunately, the rescue team is often contacted to help distressed orangutans, as they are popular as pets, even though it is illegal. Fortunately, we can usually help the orangutans return to nature, "explains Claus Staunstrup Nilsson from Save the Orangutan.

The orangutan will be set free in a secret place in a protected rainforest

The orangutan was immediately taken to the center, where a series of tests will be done to ensure that the orangutan is in good health and has not suffered from the captivity. So far, the first test shows that she is well, but they will also reveal whether she is an albino orangutan or just has lighter hair, eyes and skin color than ordinary orangutans

Because of the short time in captivity, the female orangutan still behaves like a wild orangutan, and it is highly likely that she will be returned to nature if the veterinarian check shows that it is fine to return her to nature. The albino orangutan will then be moved to a protected rainforest area that will be kept secret.

"To ensure that the albino orangutan is not caught and kept as a pet again, it will be released in a protected rainforest area and the specific location will be kept secret," says Claus Staunstrup Nilsson from Save the Orangutan.

For any additional information or questions, please don´t hesitate to contact Bue Heckmann (tell: +45 2987 3881), Head of Communication at Save the Orangutan


Facts about the orangutan:

Distribution/range: Orangutans only live on the Southeast Asia islands of Sumatra and Borneo, and it is the only great ape found outside of Africa.

Population numbers: 55,000 according to the latest estimate from 2004, but severely reduction is expected to have taken place during the last decade.

Re-production: Orangutans is thought to have the longest childhood in the world, as the age of first reproduction is around 15 years. Orangutan is also the mammal with the longest period between offspring – up to 8 years.

Fragmentation: Many of the remaining orangutan population are fragmented and low in numbers, which creates a high risk of inbreeding and thereby fragile individuals.