Rotation two! This means I am in with the babies!!!! Beautiful little balls of fur, cuddles, playtime and their little eyes looking up at me from those milk bottle feeds…. yeah right.
In reality it was no cuddles (apart from carrying them to and from the play zone) for the same reason as the outdoor nursery older orangutans; the old “humans are the devil” rule, constant jumping onto the ground, more diarrhoea than is in the London sewage system and enough screaming to put me off of the idea of offspring for life. Sprinkle all this with a generous helping of glove grabbing, bottle snatching, finger biting and tantrum throwing and we had our hands well and truly full….
….but I love it! They really are little beautiful balls of fur and witnessing their developing personalities is so sweet. From Ospie with his little tongue always hanging out, Archie, who just swings all day from one branch to the next and back again and Bidu-Bidu, my adopted orangutan who has grown up a little now and is almost ready for the outdoor nursery. He almost reminds me of an African bullfrog as he has a big bulbous throat pouch and almost no hair on his chest. His face looks a bit froggy too and he is the master at sucking you in and then stealing your gloves, you can almost see the laughter in his eyes when he’s accomplished this yet again.
Sepilok, has just recently migrated from being classed as a baby and getting carried, to an older orangutan who has to ‘jalan’ (walk). He doesn’t understand why he can’t be cuddled anymore and he hates to walk so he crys the whole way back OR clings onto you ferociously to fulfill that day’s cuddle quota. I’ve gotten quite good at pulling his four limbs off me and making him walk. Tactic: hold both his arms and walk him between your legs whilst holding your legs wide so he can’t grab on with his feet! Truth is he is actually better than some of the big ones. Chiquita for example would rather be dragged than walk or will simply sit on your foot for the ride and the older ones are bloody heavy too!
The jobs in clinic are basically the same as on the husbandry rotation: clean, feed, prepare and give them their milk, take them out the to jungle gym to climb and KEEP THEM OFF THAT PARASITIC FLOOR THEY ALL LOVE TO ROLL AROUND ON.
When we arrived in work on Monday, poor little Musa was sick; diarrhoea. By Wednesday it has spread and Goman, Koko and Ospie had also come down with a nasty dose of the squits. Lucky us, we had to clean it up. To give you an idea of the volume, we even had to disinfect each other afterwards!
On Friday, we had a tropical storm. As the babies get a bit frightened by the thunder we had to call them in. “Mari-Mari!” (Come/let’s go) sees them all come shimmying down the tree branches at you. Normally they are quite slow to do this as they are all a little wobbly still and not so sure footed as the older ones (a very cute sight I assure you) and we have to call them from the other end of the jungle gym to give them climbing practice but as they were scared we got them from directly under the climbing branches so we could comfort them on the way home.
I had Sepilok. He launched himself off of the tree at me from a great height and then clung to me like velcro, smushing himself up against me from the rain, quivering whenever the thunder sounded. No walking for you today then Sepilok!
Sneaking cuddles from the babies on the way to and from the climbing nursery/jungle gym and the weekly Wednesday weigh in. The ultimate highlight though was Monday afternoon. We were minding our business under the trees when suddenly we were joined by the pygmy elephants and their rangers. I have sort of gotten used to being surrounded by these beautiful wild animals and so I was taking it for granted initially and not giving it much thought and then I suddenly took a step back and looked at my very surreal surroundings: deep in the Bornean jungle, little ginger fluff balls above my head and baby pygmy elephants around my feet, the sound of hornbills and geckos in the trees…. paradise ❤