Watermelon Easter Bunnies And A Treasure Hunt - Easter Enrichment For The Orangutans at Samboja Lestari!

Watermelon Easter Bunnies And A Treasure Hunt - Easter Enrichment For The Orangutans at Samboja Lestari!

Posted by Ellie Hutchin on Mar 30, 2018

The team at Samboja Lestari have been getting into the Easter spirit! Kate, the project coordinator, along with the rest of the staff and volunteers put together some fantastic Easter-themed enrichment for the orangutans resident on the man-made islands at the sanctuary!

Step One: Create The Enrichment

volunteer with orangutans

Stuffed Watermelon Easter Bunnies

orangutan enrichment and rehabilitation

Volunteers helped Kate to carve out the insides of watermelons. Leaves were then collected and woven to create bunny ears and whiskers, with various other materials inserted into the shells of the fruit to pose as facial features! Once this was completed, the empty shells were then filled with popcorn and cooked sweetcorn for the orangutans to forage through and enjoy.

The insides of the watermelon did not go to waste either – they were put into the freezer to make for some tasty ice block enrichment!

Easter Parcel Hunt

volunteer at samboja lestari

More colourful leaves were collected and then smeared with a small amount of cooked pumpkin. Once this was done, the leaves were woven into small parcels for the orangutans to pick apart to discover what tasty treat lies within!

while this enrichment is fun and festive, (and just plain adorable!) it is primarily a great way to keep the orangutans stimulated by engaging several of their natural senses. In a recent blog from Bron, project coordinator at The Great Orangutan Project, it was stated that enrichment activities much like this are not only good for cognitive stimulation in orangutans, but also for their mental health!

volunteer with animals abroad

Step Two: Distribute The Enrichment

volunteer with orangutans

Once the enrichment was completed, it then had to be distributed among the various man-made islands that surround the sanctuary. As many will know, these islands are home to some of the permanent residents at Samboja who for various reasons, will never be able to be released into the wild. This is why enrichment is so important for the great apes as it keeps them happy and stimulated - and the volunteers play a major role in this!

Samboja Lestari

Sam, another of the project facilitators was responsible for distributing the enrichment onto the islands. There are moats which separate them, and volunteers helped to move the boat from place to place to make sure all the orangutans received some Easter fun! However, Papa, who was released onto an island back in December with females Vera and Citra, was too territorial to allow Sam to put one on there for him!

Step Three: Orangutans Go Wild!

work with orangutans

Kate told us, “overall, the orangutans really liked their enrichment but most went and hid in the bushes to enjoy it. This could have been because it was a very hot day but also because it was something new to them which they wanted to enjoy on their own.” With most other watermelon based enrichment, the apes would destroy the shells, but with their Easter Bunnies they were extremely gentle and some even protected them with elaborate displays of strength! The apes also enjoyed foraging for the leaf parcels, and seemed extremely happy to discover them and taste what was waiting for them inside!

Romeo At Samboja Lestari

Here are a few of the reactions to the watermelon Easter Bunnies from some of the orangutans that reside on the islands at Samboja Lestari:

Romeo: Romeo put on a big display of strength, picked up his watermelon and retreated to the bushes to enjoy it - in other words, this was his watermelon Easter Bunny, and no one else’s!

Papa, Citra & Vera: Papa, as already mentioned, would not allow Sam to place an Easter Bunny for him, however, this allowed Citra and Vera to enjoy theirs in peace! The two lovely ladies sat together to enjoy their enrichment, and later on, Citra discovered the other Bunny which was left on the side of the island for Papa! However, the orangutans did enjoy discovering their Easter parcels too, so all was not lost for Papa.

Alohdoro & Anie: These orangutans brought smiles all round with their reactions to the Easter enrichment. Kate says, “they both looked like they were watching a movie whilst eating bowls of popcorn!”

We are so glad that the orangutans enjoyed their exciting Easter themed enrichment, and are excited to see what the Samboja team can think up for next year!

If you would like to know more about this project then please take a look at the project page.


Share this Article...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below.


Leave a Comment...

Wanting to add something to this story or just let us know your thoughts? Just leave your comments below. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated: abusive behaviour or self-promotion will not be allowed.

500 characters remaining

Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.


Featured Blog Arcticles


Featured Videos


See what you could get up to as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

See how you can aid the conservation of the stunning Asian elephant in the wild Sri Lankan jungle when you volunteer on The Great Elephant Project!

Check out this video where we hear from volunteer Stacey and conservation manager Judy about how valued volunteers are on the Rhino And Elephant Conservation Project. 

Latest Blog Arcticles


Footprint Identification Technique - The Future Of Monitoring Wildlife?

Footprint Identification Technique - The Future Of Monitoring Wildlife?

The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary has been working closely...

The Species Which Went Extinct in 2018 - And The Ones We Could Be Set To Lose

The Species Which Went Extinct in 2018 - And The Ones We Could Be Set To Lose

2018 may have been and gone, but a number of wildlife...

Is Last-Minute Volunteering More Exciting?

Is Last-Minute Volunteering More Exciting?

This Christmas, why not try a bit of spontaneity? Take a...

Anita And Graham's Volunteer Review Of The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Anita And Graham's Volunteer Review Of The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Check out Anita and Graham's review of their volunteer...

How to play ‘trick or treat’ with an orangutan

How to play ‘trick or treat’ with an orangutan

Take a look at how the orangutans at the Samboja Lestari...

Meet Shrinky... A Very Special Baboon From The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Meet Shrinky... A Very Special Baboon From The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary sadly receive many orphaned...

International Sloth Day 2018 - Sloths need our help, so let’s get moving!

International Sloth Day 2018 - Sloths need our help, so let’s get moving!

The 20th of October marks one of the cutest days in the...

The Great Gorilla Project Review - "More than an adventure, it is a trip of a lifetime!"

The Great Gorilla Project Review - "More than an adventure, it is a trip of a lifetime!"

Take a look at this detailed and exciting volunteer review...


Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Foreign Office Travel Advice