Lately, Pony has been highly publicized in the cyberworld. An article in Bahasa Indonesia on Pony quickly spread because her story is so tragic. This beautiful female orangutan was taken from her habitat and kept in a house. Not to be kept as a pet, which in itself is illegal, but more appallingly, she was forced into prostitution.
Pony has gone through a tragic chapter in her life, and is now going through a long rehabilitation program to give her life back to her as a true orangutan. We hope this story will give us inspiration to stop any kind of animal abuse.
Pony was confiscated by the Central Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA), working together with the BOS Foundation and local security forces, from a prostitution house in Kareng Pangi village, Central Kalimantan, in 2003. She was only around 6 years old at the time of confiscation.
Unthinkably, Pony was herself treated as a prostitute. Men could pay a certain amount of money to the house owner to have sex with her.
No-one knew how long Pony had been there. The house owner strongly refused to give up Pony. To her, Pony was a cash machine and a source of luck. It was not an easy effort to release Pony from this dreadful place; anyone who tried to do so faced an army of local people who were armed with cleavers, ready to fight for the house owner.
Following an exhausting process that lasted for a year, the BOS Foundation and BKSDA together with the police and military forces, persuaded the house owner to give Pony to the BOS Foundation.
Pony first came to Nyaru Menteng on February 13, 2003. She was in a sad and horrible condition. The house owner had shaved off all of her hair and her body was covered in mosquito bites. She couldn’t stop scratching the bites and her skin had become infected.
A long rehabilitation process for Pony
In Nyaru Menteng, Pony received the much needed care she required after being subjected to such a terrible ordeal, and started to undergo the rehabilitation process. Living for so long with humans and being treated so appallingly whilst in captivity, it was not easy for Pony to learn to live as a wild orangutan.
Pony has been going through a long process of rehabilitation to forget her ordeal and regain her wild nature to become a true orangutan. She has lived in a socialisation complex with other female orangutans and also joined the Forest School. In 2005, Pony was placed on Bangamat Island, which is one of our pre-release islands, to encourage her to live more independently. Unfortunately, she was not ready for this advance stage of the learning process. Pony was not used to the trees. She preferred to stay on the ground. When hungry, she would wait for the technicians to give her food without ever trying to forage by herself. Unlike other orangutans, she never explored the island. Her travel was limited to crossing a small river between the islands to go to the technicians’ camp and ask for food.
Seeing that her skills only showed limited development, regretfully, Pony had to be brought back to the socialisation enclosure in Nyaru Menteng.
New Home, New Life for Pony
On her return to the socialisation complex, patiently the Nyaru Menteng technicians continued to take care of her and teach her the survival skills orangutans need to successfully live in the forest. Often, she would join younger orangutans at the forest school.
Now, 17 year old Pony has finally received another chance to live on a pre-release Island. June 29, 2013, and together with another 7 female orangutans, Pony was translocated to Kaja Island.
Her survival skills are growing satisfactorily compared to previous years. She is now able to make a nest and shows wild behaviour. This female weighs 72.1 kg and is now very dominant compared to her friends.
While living on the island, Pony will receive special care and attention from the staff who will monitor her development and survival skills. There is still a long way to go, but we are very relieved and happy to see Pony once again living on a pre-release Island. Undeniably a better place for her to be than an enclosure or captivity. Enjoy your new home and life, Pony!
Text by: Monterado Fridman, Nyaru Menteng Communication and Education Coordinator
Photos: Indrayana, Nyaru Menteng Enrichment Staff and Photographer