Success for Pongky!
On 2nd February 2016, a Sumatran orangutan named Pongky was finally granted the chance to return to the wild, after spending over ten years behind bars, first as an illegal pet, and then in a zoo. We campaigned for more than two years for his freedom, and we are delighted to share the news that he will shortly have the chance to return to the forests of the Leuser Ecosystem, where he belongs.
A statement from Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation Director of SOCP:
Pongky has been doing very well since he arrived at the SOCP Quarantine Centre from his previous location at the Medan Zoo. Recently, we were lucky enough to be visited by UK veterinarian and co-founder of Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID), Nigel Hicks. The SOCP veterinary team took advantage of Nigel's visit to perform an enucleation surgery on Pongky, in which his blind and badly infected right eye was removed. This was deemed necessary to ensure the safety of his other, still healthy, eye. Pongky is currently recovering from the surgery, which went extremely well, as we make plans for his release at the SOCP Orangutan Reintroduction Centre in Jantho, Aceh province. Here, more than 80 orangutans have already been released, with the aim of establishing a new, self-sustaining wild population of this critically endangered species. Past experience suggests that having only one eye will not in any way encumber Pongky in the forest, as several orangutans in similar situations have been successfully returned to the forest by SOCP and other Indonesian orangutan projects. The largest risk for Pongky will be if he decides to stay near camp, as he has grown significantly and this would be a dangerous situation; however, the lure of the forest and the adult female orangutans already living there will likely be too much to resist, and he will be able to live out his days as a wild orangutan, hopefully even fathering infants in the coming decades. We would like to extend a HUGE thanks to SOS for taking the lead in rescuing Pongky from the Medan Zoo, and to all of his supporters and fans around the world for giving him this second chance that he so much deserves!
Click here for the background to Pongky's story.