New friends: An orangutan makes itself at home in a village of humans

An orangutan stumbled into a remote Indonesian village and was welcomed with open arms. The encounter was captured on videos posted on social media where villagers said the orangutan looked hungry and weak.

The wife of the head of Lusan village, Muhammad Irham, noticed the orangutan swinging from tree to tree and became frightened, Irham told VICE. She quickly slammed her doors shut and called the other villagers to witness the swinging primate. 

“Looks like it was looking for food because it’s hungry,” Irham said.

On June 9, villagers shared footage of people guiding the orangutan across a small road and holding its hand. The reaction from the people was mixed, some laughed with delight while others showed visible fear. In one clip, the orangutan is seen taking a comfortable nap after being fed jackfruit, bananas and milk.

Yesterday a lost, weak and hungry orang utan entered a village in East Kalimantan. Residents tried to provide help, by providing food. https://t.co/HYJmEjypSu How often we need to witness this cruelty? End #deforestation. Restore orang utan habitats. They have nowhere else to go. pic.twitter.com/OpiLYkwN4H

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Although the orangutan left for the forest after the second day, it returned a day later for more snacks. After being alerted of the animal’s presence, the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Center brought the orangutan to a conservation center. It was later released back into the forest.

The center found a microchip inside the adult male orangutan, so they theorize he was previously released into the wild from a conservation program.

Jamartin Sihite, the CEO of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, told VICE multiple factors could explain why the orangutan “strayed too close to humans without fear,” including reduced availability of food, the impact of climate change and forest fires.

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

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