Hope is a great thing, without it you have nothing. When I sat with Pongky, a male Sumatran orangutan in Medan Zoo, Sumatra last year I couldn’t believe the suffering and pain I was witnessing. Paying visitors would pay to watch him and laugh at his screams. Those were screams of anguish though and not for their pleasure. I cant tell you how I hate cruelty to animals and what I saw on that day has haunted me ever since.
The reason I went to Medan zoo last year was to get some images of Pongky to help with the tireless campaigning by SOS and OIC to get him released.I couldn’t publish any of the photos in the blog I did last year covering that day or release them to the press through fear of damaging the campaign. The blog post and what I saw from last years trip can be seen by clicking on this link.
This morning I have read he is now free from this prison and being cared for at the quarantine facility in Medan the capital of Sumatra. Fingers crossed he will be on the road back to having is freedom in the wild. I can’t tell you how I feel knowing this as I type I’m smiling for him.
OIC’s Statement –
“OIC found him being kept illegally by a high ranking police official – a ‘Police Grand Commissioner Adjutant’ – in Aceh province, Sumatra, in July 2013. They do not know how he came to be there, but from their knowledge of the illegal pet trade it’s pretty much certain he was born in the wild and taken from his mother as an infant. She would almost undoubtedly have been killed during his capture.
When Pongky was first discovered by the OIC he was locked in a small cage with no access to open space, very limited room to move, and only a single rope, on which he swung back and forth obsessively – a common stress and boredom induced behaviour. The first attempt to rescue Pongky was led by specialist staff of the OIC, who confronted the police commissioner, explained that keeping an orangutan was illegal and that Pongky should immediately be surrendered.
The commissioner refused this first approach, however, and the matter subsequently had to be taken up by the Government’s conservation authorities. A few weeks later, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority in Aceh Province (BKSDA-Aceh) confiscated Pongky.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the capture, killing, keeping, transporting and trade in orangutans is illegal in Indonesia (National Law No 5/1990), no case was brought against the police commissioner for keeping Pongky illegally, sadly missing an important opportunity to apply the full force of the national law.
Furthermore, according to Indonesia’s National Strategy and Action Plan for Orangutan Conservation 2007-2017, “any orangutans confiscated from the illegal pet trade should enter a rehabilitation programme and be returned to the wild”. Pongky, however, was taken to Medan Zoo instead. He had simply swapped one life behind bars for another.”
I spent several hours just sitting and watching him, I couldn’t believe mankind could inflict this level of cruelty onto another animal and think this was ok. Charging the public to enter this zoo and in turn be witness to Pongkys suffering didn’t make sense, he was on show, his suffering was on show, he had nothing and it broke my heart and I couldn’t pick myself up and leave. When I left everything seemed like in a blur, I couldn’t comprehend what I had witnessed. It was tragic and to this day I never stopped thinking of him or those conditions.
Sometimes when you see things they touch you so much you can’t put those things you’ve seen down for long without remembering them. Today I shed a tear when I saw the post that he was removed from that place they painted green. Things don’t make sense and to try and make sense of them drives you crazy. Half blind in one eye, poor heath and made to walk on all four limbs for over two years and now he’s free. Hope is a wonderful thing.
When I was there is was so hot and I took out my water bottle to drink. Pongky saw this and tired to reach me to get the water as he didn’t have any. So I went around the corner, took of the lid, cleaned all round the bottle and gave him my water. I couldn’t believe it and how thirsty he was so i filmed it because nobody would believe me if I told them I thought. I wasn’t going to stand there and drink infront of him knowing he was so thirsty no way.
I will leave you with an image of him , my last memory of him as I walked away from him last March, Enjoy your freedom Pongky and to everyone involved in making this happen- OIC, SOS, SOCP thank you.
Please donate whatever you can towards his care and recovery – everyone involved are optimistic that he will be able to return to the forest, where he belongs. Please see this link to help thank you.