Date arrived at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre 18th July 2010
Age on arrival 8 months old
Weight on arrival 2.6 kg
Gelison is a clever and friendly orangutan, who is a joy to watch. Despite having a difficult start in life, he is currently a very happy boy who has been at Sepilok for four years, and now weighs a healthy 13.5kg.
Gelison has recently moved from the baby nursery to the outdoor nursery which is for older orangutans. Here he can roam freely into the Kabili forest reserve which surrounds Sepilok. Most orangutans are initially reluctant to explore too far at first, and Gelison is no different. However, he has now spent a few nights in the forest along with his friends Wulan, Cinta and Casey, who he spends most of his time with.
Gelison has started to attach himself to an older female orangutan called Clenan. He appears to look to Clenan as a mothering figure, and tries to copy her behaviours. As Gelison lost his mum when he was very young, he is probably seeking a mother figure to help him master the forest.
Gelison still struggles to perfect his climbing, and this is because he doesn’t spend much time practicing. He prefers to play, and drops to the ground when put on the ropes or trees. The rangers have devised a new way to encourage Gelison to climb by putting him on a small tree which is surrounded by long, bushy grass. Gelison hates long grass, and so stays in the tree climbing. For now it is working, and it’s hoped Gelison will improve as a result.
It is imperative that orangutans are good climbers as being on the ground can be very dangerous. There are many threats on the forest floor, such as the clouded leopard, whose sharp teeth grow to two inches long, and there are poisonous snakes, which give a very nasty bite! However, the most serious threat to orangutans on the ground is diseases, which hide in the soil. A particularly horrible disease that orangutans have been known to get is Melioidosis.
Melioidosis is highly contagious, and symptoms include weight loss, fever, cough, and skin conditions. It can progress silently for a considerable time and victims often don’t survive. The disease is spread by an organism, which is found in warm damp soil. Many animals can be infected, including humans, but young animals are more vulnerable to Melioidosis which is why it is crucial that precautions are in place to protect the babies at Sepilok. For this reason the babies are strongly encouraged to stay off the ground, and are not taken out when it is raining.
Gelison is making some great progress, and over the next few months it will be very interesting to see how he copes at outdoor nursery, and if his climbing improves with the rangers’ new technique. We look forward to updating you in six months time.
This report was sent to us by Orangutan Appeal UK