The latest video of Budi the baby orangutan, released today to mark the first anniversary of his rescue, shows just how far the young ape has come in a year.
In December 2014, a team from Uckfield-based International Animal Rescue (IAR) found him lying flat on his back, sick and helpless, in a chicken cage in West Borneo.
He was in a critical condition after being kept as a pet and fed for ten months on nothing but condensed milk.
His body was bloated and his limbs were swollen and bent from malnutrition.
At about 14 months old, Budi should have been strong enough to climb and swing in the trees: instead he was as helpless as a new-born baby.
Now, one year on, the latest in a series of videos documenting Budi’s progress shows the young orangutan looking a picture of health and completely at home in his forest environment.
When he was first admitted to IAR’s orangutan rescue centre, Budi cried in pain when the vets propped him up to feed him.
He was so weak that he couldn’t even open his mouth and for the first few weeks, his food had to be pureed because he didn’t know how to chew.
However, the new video shows that Budi has definitely mastered the art of eating and developed a very hearty appetite. Whereas before he was unable even to drink from a bottle unaided, now he has no difficulty picking up items of food – and even removing them from his mouth for further inspection.
Earlier videos show Budi learning to walk by clinging on to the fingers of one of the vets and then starting to climb with a little assistance and lots of encouragement.
Since then he has made remarkable progress. He is seen sitting on the climbing frame in IAR’s ‘baby school,’ munching happily on various pieces of food and swinging casually in a hanging tyre.
Photos taken on the same day as the video show him later, fast asleep in the tyre with new best friend Jacko. The two are a picture of contentment.
Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “Budi has come such a long way since last December and is growing into a beautiful, sweet-natured young orangutan.
“Babies like Budi are often so weak and sickly when they come in that their life literally hangs in the balance and yet time and again our medical team works what is nothing short of a miracle with them.
“It is a joy to see Budi and his friends in baby school, learning to climb and play together, but it is a sight that also fills us with sadness.
“These babies should be living high up in the trees with their mothers but widespread deforestation has left them orphaned and homeless. The fires in Indonesia in recent months have put even greater pressure on orangutan populations.
“Millions of acres of forest have been destroyed, causing more animals to die in the flames, starve to death or flee into neighbouring villages where they come into conflict with people. The adults are often killed and babies like Budi are captured and kept or sold as pets.
“We are delighted with the progress Budi is making. Now our biggest concern is to ensure that by the time he and his friends in baby school are ready to be released, there is still some forest left for them to live in.”
In a statement released to coincide with climate change talks currently taking place between world leaders in Paris, Karmele Llano Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, said: “We are willing to continue working flat out to save the lives of animals that stand no chance of survival without our help. But that is not a lasting solution to the problem.
“It is vital that serious action is taken to prevent further outbreaks of fires. There is no future for the orangutan unless all parties involved can make a commitment to conserving sufficient habitat to ensure its survival and implement measures to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the likelihood of further El Nino climatic events.
“We hope that determined actions will result from this Climate Conference because we are running out of time.”
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