Orangutan Dilla arrived at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre after a traumatic time in captivity. Therefore, she was unable to learn all necessary survival skills and take care of her daughter Delilah. Luckily, both orangutans have now begun a new chapter of their lives.

While all orangutans at the Rehabilitation Centre have a tragic backstory, Dilla had a particularly rough start at life. When she was rescued, Dilla was estimated to be almost five years old, but she had spent over four years in captivity. When she arrived at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, she was in poor mental and physical condition, and the vet team soon found her to be blind in her left eye.

When an orangutan arrives at the centre with as much trauma as Dilla, it will be a challenge to rehabilitate them, and it appears it also prevented Dilla from caring for her own daughter. Despite the best efforts by the team at Nyaru Menteng, the bond never truly formed between mother and daughter. The difficult decision was made to make Delilah part of the rehabilitation program where she was cared for by the caregivers.

Dilla is ready for life on sanctuary island
Dilla at Nyaru Menteng while expecting Delilah

A new life on a sanctuary island

After a while, Dilla was moved to a pre-release island to hone her skills. On the island, Dilla was an active orangutan and excellent climber, but sadly, that was not enough.  She did not appear to be learning new skills or using her old ones. Instead of foraging for wild foods, Dilla tried to rely on the supplemented food for almost all of her diet. She also struggled with appropriate socialisation with other orangutans and ultimately failed to compete with them for food. This combination led to Dilla not only losing an unhealthy amount of weight, but eventually contracting worms as well.

It was decided to move Dilla to a sanctuary island for healthy orangutans that need monitoring and support. Here, there is less competition with other orangutans and the technicians can provide her with even greater support to make up for her lacking skillset and Dilla will still be able to live out a natural life.

Dilla was released to the sanctuary island Badak Kecil together with orangutans Mawas and Jeliva last week. Here, she can now begin a safe and calm life in natural surroundings.

Dilla is ready for life on sanctuary island
Delilah is doing well in Forest School

Delilah is doing well

Dilla’s daughter Delilah has luckily never shown signs of trauma after being rejected by her mother.

Delilah is now 2.5 years old and already showing promise in her forest school lessons, being one of the most capable in her group. She is not only active but shows no fear when in the forest or when climbing trees. Right now, her record is climbing over 20 metres into a tree; very impressive for someone her age. Once in the canopy, Delilah typically chooses to spend her day there, only descending when the caregivers offer fruit or milk. She is also a social individual and is friends with all orangutans in her group.

Delilah’s life got off to a rough start, but her future is looking bright. This is also the case for Dilla, who can look forward to a good and safe life on her sanctuary island.