'Childhood Me Is Jumping For Joy - I've Fulfilled My Life Goal!' Catch Up With Our Orangutan Enrichment Competition Winner, Jessie!

'Childhood Me Is Jumping For Joy - I've Fulfilled My Life Goal!' Catch Up With Our Orangutan Enrichment Competition Winner, Jessie!

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 18th May 2017

We'd just received news from the Bornean rainforest that Jessie (the winner of our orangutan competition) is having the most spectacular time at Samboja Lestari. In fact, she's loving her experience so much that she's decided to extend her stay! Find out what she's been up to since arriving at the project!

What were your first impressions when you arrived?

Orang-utans! Childhood me is jumping for joy. I’m living with orang-utans! Finally, I’ve fulfilled my life goal of being Jane Goodall (well, for four weeks anyway!).

Okay, so first major impressions: Kate is awesome. Kate, our volunteer co-ordinator, is super dooper warm, casual and laid back - a perfect combination for a go-to person! She welcomes us all and makes us feel right at home.

Major impression two: the accommodation is awesome! Picture a rustic, classy treehouse, with the addition of an army of orang-utans living under 100 metres away. Sounds sweet, right? It is. The staff are so smiley and helpful, truly radiating the warmth of Indonesian hospitality. I immediately love the roommate I’ve been paired with: same age, same adoration of Dave Franco - a room match made in heaven. Oh, and did I mention the food? So, I could write an essay entirely on the food, but I’ll just leave it at absolutely brilliant. Every meal is addictively delicious, always with an abundance to choose from - my choice being that I’ll have it all, Terima Kasih. My game plan of becoming incredibly fit and sexy from all the physical labour has very quickly diminished thanks to how good the food is.

Major impression three: the orang-utans. *Girly squeal cutesie aww noise*. Could there be a cooler animal? The answer is no. You can stop searching now. The orang-utans are amazing. Absolutely incredible. Cheeky. Beautiful. Stunning. The depth in which they stare into my soul…When they lock my eyes, it feels as if I’m staring into another person’s. They are such giant and magnificent and gentle animals. We can get so close to them and the experience of bonding with them is insane. Natural instinct pushes me to find my favourites, but honestly, they each have such unique, evident personalities that it’s impossible for me to not just fall for each and every one of them, loving them for all of their own unique quirks and characteristics.

Orangutan enrichment

What was it like giving the orangutans your enrichment idea?

Wet. Very, very wet! That could have something to do with the fact that upon distributing my ice-blocks from canoe, I soon accidentally joined the island’s moat, fully clothed, fully equipped with non-waterproof mobile phone and camera. So, that was an addition to the day. BUT, the ice-blocks did turn out great, and the orangs appeared to love them! Especially on such a hot day - See, there was a reason that I went swimming with all my electronics! They sucked each end of the ice-blocks, continuing to rotate them to alternate between each end’s flavour. It was an amazing experience, watching a sketchbook idea from home in Australia become a reality for these indescribable apes.

What are you looking forward to?

With batch one of my ice-block enrichment out of the way, I’m super excited for round two! We played around with the flavours for our second attempt, this time going for a really bitter taste for one end, and a super, super sweet taste for the second. I’m assuming you’ve never had the opportunity to drink blended down papaya leaf before, but I’m going to save you the distaste and just recommend it’s an experience you should be happy to miss out on. I had to rinse my mouth out for a good few minutes after the taste-test. But apparently, the orang-utans love papaya leaf! So, we’ll just have to wait and see how they react. I’m also really looking forward to giving the ice block enrichment to the sunbears. They are very cool animals and so hopefully they’ll enjoy the enrichment activity just as much as the orangs did first time round. Two weeks down. Two weeks to go. Please can I just stay forever?

Orangutan volunteer

We hope you love hearing about Jessie's awesome orangutan experience - stay tuned, as we'll have more insight from within the rainforest coming your way soon! In the meantime, why not take a look at Samboja Lestari for yourself? Visit the project page now!


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