We had a bit of a surprise during sun bear husbandry yesterday (Fri 13th) when Ting San came walking out of the jungle and inspected our cleaning work in the night dens of the sun bears on the hill. She was very casual in her exploring, as if she was trying to look inconspicuous and as if she belonged there. It was tempting to give her a broom and point out the areas we hadn't attended to yet. However, she continued on her way and walked back off into the jungle, followed swiftly by Richard and Apai Jugah.
It transpired that Ghanti, apparently tired of only having her son for company in the jungle, had visited the large orang-utan enclosure that morning and assisted the escape of both Ting San and Ali by offering them a branch carefully broken and lowered into the enclosure to pull them out. The youngsters literally jumped at the opportunity for a day's outing.
Ali spent most of the day in Ghanti's company, close to the centre at the feeding platform area. We were able to observe them, and it was a pleasure to do so. It was the first time we have seen Ghanti's son separate significantly from his mum - for most of the time he was metres away from her wrestling with Ali. Ghanti was keeping a careful eye on the duo from below, but she was clearly uninterested in joining in with the rough and tumble play. She was quite determined to keep Ali out as a play-mate for her son for the day though, as she aggressively chased the orang-utan keeper, Eddie, out of the feeding platform area when he dared to approach Ali to tempt him back.
At the end of the day around 4pm, Ali was more than happy to come back into the orang-utan dens with his favourite keeper, Apai Sandi, and it looked as though Ghanti had enough of him by then too! One child is clearly more than enough for an orang-utan mother. It was very nice of her to bring the youngsters out for the day though. Ting San remains at large.
As of Monday (16th), the four youngest orang-utan are off into the jungle for a 10 day stretch, which will be the longest period of time they have spent in the jungle. So Ali will be back in the forest then, though this time in a slightly more controlled, supervised way! It will be great if Ting San will stay out until the team head out to the ranger station on Monday, and she can also stay with the orangs for the duration of their rehabilitation training this month. Ting San has missed out on previous trips as she has bitten a couple of the keepers and become a little hard to manage safely. However, if she is in the forest already, it should be a simple matter of providing food for her and providing a safety net should she need to use it.
Enjoy the accompanying photos of Ali, Ghanti and baby sharing each other’s company in the forest.