The Story of Baby Orangutan Jacko

The Story of Baby Orangutan Jacko

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 29th May 2015

Jacko is a baby orangutan who is about two years old. He spends his days playing and getting up to mischief, blissfully unaware that his story is the perfect example of the dangers faced by today's orangutans, and the hard work that is ongoing to protect them.

Jacko spends his days in the rehabilitation centre in Ketapang on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. He is looked after by International Animal Rescue and a team of our volunteers who are part of the IAR Orangutan Project. Every one of our volunteers who comes into contact with Jacko falls in love with him and his playful charm, but his story could have been much different.

Found And Found Again

When Jacko was found by his rescuers he was living with a worker from one of the palm oil plantations in the PT Citra Sawit Cemerlang. The worker said he found Jacko on the plantation but couldn't find his mother. Assuming the mother had been killed the worker tried to enlist the support of the plantation's management, but without success. He decided to bring Jacko home.

But the conditions Jacko had to live in were horrible. The worker and his wife had no facilities and were struggling to look after the orangutan. Jacko had to live in a small wooden box. The worker knew what he was doing was wrong, but he said he didn't know what he should do.

Jacko's prospects started to change when a representative of the local Dayak indigenous council learned of his unsuitable living conditions. It wasn't the first time that Bapak Deka had been involved in the rescue of an orangutan, and he didn't delay with Jacko. He contacted the plantation worker and convinced him to contact the Forestry Department in the local area, and International Animal Rescue.

Bapak Deka said further education is needed so that local Dayak people and others can learn more about orangutans, their plight, and the protections they are afforded by law.

"We need more education for our own people and I'm committed to assisting with this," he said.

Rescue Operation

The team that rescued Jacko included a forestry officer, a member of the forestry police, and representatives from International Animal Rescue. One member of that team was International Animal Rescue veterinarian Dr Adi Irawan. He was full of praise for the actions of Bapak Deka.

He said: "We need more people like Bapak Deka who can help us to rescue orangutans and to spread the message."

Jacko was brought to the orangutan project in Ketapang where he now lives in suitable accommodation while he is being rehabilitated, with plenty of room to roam, swing, jump and play.


Our partners in the orangutan project agree with Bapak Deka in regard to the need for more education to stop Jacko's story being repeated. Karmele Llano Sanchez is the Programme Director at International Animal Rescue in Indonesia. As well as education she also highlighted the problem of deforestation and how that is having an effect on the future protection of the orangutan.

"Very often orangutans are found with no habitat and are vulnerable to hunters because the forest is being converted to oil palm, and it is in these situations that babies are likely to be taken and kept as pets," she said. "If we don't stop the deforestation of orangutan habitat, we won't stop people keeping them as pets."

More must be done to ensure the protection of these beautiful animals in Indonesia, but for one adolescent orangutan, the future is bright.

If you would like to join an orangutan project in Borneo to help with the rehabilitation process of orangutans like Jacko then please click here.

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