Halloween At The Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project!

Halloween At The Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project!

Posted by Kate Helliwell on 31st Oct 2019

Watermelon ‘Pumpkins’ for Orangutans 

Here at Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project, our volunteers help the team to make enrichment and to celebrate Halloween with the orangutans, we decided to give them a special treat with Halloween-themed watermelons for the unreleasable orangutans on the Islands.

Firstly, we took our watermelons and carved our spooky Halloween faces upon them. The next step was to gut the watermelons and squeeze the juice from the melon pulp. We then added lots of fruits that the orangutans don’t usually get, like mango, grapes, apple and other special local fruits along with a variety of different nuts that they are also not used to getting.

Orangutan Enrichment

We then took the pure watermelon juice and added an agar-agar mix (similar to jelly) to it for a nice natural flavouring and once it was set in the fridge the scary watermelons were ready to hand out! With the remainder of the goods, we also made a similar mix and put this into bamboo for some of the other orangutans in the sanctuary to enjoy. The melons were transferred to the boat ready for action.

Fani the Orangutan

First came Fani, who grabbed her melon and was off to eat her special treat in peace.

Merin and Marlon and Aholodora

Next came Merin and son Marlon along with Aholodora, Marlon as ever was very curious and swung between Mum and best buddy Alohodora to explore what was inside these curious-looking treats. Alhodora made sure cheeky Marlon did not steal her prize, although he tried his hardest, he is still no match for her at his age, he can still have a nosy though.

Rambo and Anih Racing

Then it was time for Anih and Rambo, and the race began to see who could snatch their treat the fastest. Dominant male Rambo, who is normally too proud to even take or eat enrichment in front of humans was right in the mix as this was definitely not something he wanted to miss out on today.  It was definitely a great moment to see him stand up for himself as he can often be the shyer one out of the two and sometimes misses out to more confident Anih.  He got stuck into his melon straight away and didn’t even care that we were there observing him, as did Anih and as per usual, once Anih had devoured her melon she went looking for Rambo’s, luckily by this time he had already enjoyed most of his and he let her take the rest!

Anih and Rambo

Sun Bear Trick or Treat

Today we decided to try something different with the sun bears by make ghost-shaped happy sacks to hang in the enclosure. We mixed it up a little by adding fruits and treats that they don’t normally get with and added the challenge of trick or treat. We added parcels into the happy sacks some containing treats and some not, so the bears had to work harder to find the real treat.

Halloween Sun Bear Enrichment

Firstly, we took the hessian sacks and stuffed dried leaves from the forest inside them, we added mango, grapes and other local fruits they don’t have in their everyday diet along with special nuts and seeds. We also smeared their favour peanut butter on the leaves to encourage them to explore the whole contents of the ghost sacks and then made small parcels some containing treats others containing just scents like cinnamon, so they would have to really sort through to find the treats.

Volunteers With Bear Enrichment

Once the sacks were ready, we took them into the enclosure and hung them all around so that the bears would have to work hard for their rewards. Next, the keepers called the bears to move from their top enclosure into the bottom Halloween themed area, volunteers also helped to scatter the morning feed and smear jam on the playground area and then we watched.

Sun Bears

The bears quickly went for the easy food first but once they smelt these strange sacks hanging, they climbed up the platforms to explore. One bear even sat below a platform waiting for her friend to drop the goods while the bear above was struggling to tear open the sack!

Sun Bears

Watch the Halloween enrichment unfold for both the orangutans and sun bears in the below video: 


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Simone commented 1 week ago
I am happy to hear from Kate and the work in Samboja again. I missed the reports of Kate for a long time. Great that I have seen Caroline on the photo. We were together in Samboja in Sept. 2017. I hope to come back also to Samboja some time. Good work on Halloween to make the orangs happy.

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Wendy commented 1 week ago
Brilliant. Miss Samboja, miss Kate and crew, miss the orangutans and bears. Felt like I was there for a few minutes - thanks :-)


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Sonia commented 1 week ago
Fantastic work you have given me ideas for enriching the lives of my dogs.

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Brenda and Anne Gallantree commented 1 week ago
We were volunteers at Samboja so glad to see the wonderful work going on to make the ORs lives so much better great idea for the halloween enrichment I remember sewing all the sack bags with treats inside Well done to all the volunteers and staff let's hope we can all work together to save their natural habitat

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karen schaupp commented 1 week ago
so nice to see the critters having a happy halloween, and peeps too!

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