Joss the orphaned baby orangutan is a victim of captivity. Fortunately, she is finally getting the love and life she deserves.
According to International Animal Rescue, the organization that is now caring for Joss, the tiny orangutan was bought by a man named Dahlan in Indonesia for $36 because “he felt sorry for her.” At the time, he didn’t know that it was illegal to keep an orangutan as a pet and he, his wife and four children treated her like a teddy bear for nearly two years. No one in Dahlan’s family realized that hugging and squeezing the primate was scaring and deeply disturbing her.
Alan Knight, chief executive at International Animal Rescue, also believes this isn’t the only trauma the young ape has experienced.
“It’s likely that little Joss saw her mother being brutally killed before she was snatched from the forest and sold as a pet,” he wrote on the rescue’s site. “You only have to look at her to see the nightmare she has been through during her short life.”
To cope with the stress of being separated from her family and not knowing where she was, Joss developed the habit of hugging herself for comfort.
By the time International Animal Rescue learned of her existence, Dahlan had apparently learned that keeping her as a pet was against the law and handed her over voluntarily to the organization on Jan. 5.
Her rescue, however, is just the start of a long, hard road for Joss.
“Our team has never seen such a young baby orangutan exhibiting stereotypical behavior like this,”Jaclyn Eng, International Animal Rescue vet, wrote on the group's site. “It is extremely distressing to watch because it must reflect the mental and emotional trauma little Joss is suffering.”
Whenever someone on the team tries to comfort or hold Joss, she doesn’t respond well.
“She appears even more stressed, climbing away on her elbows and banging her poor head against the wall,” Eng wrote.
Her behavior can be seen in the video below, but be forewarned that it may be disturbing to watch.
Sadly, this is not the first time International Animal Rescue has witnessed this degree of abuse toward a baby orangutan. Last October, the group found a 5-month-old named Gito abandoned an Indonesian village in Borneo. He was discovered in a cardboard box soaked in urine, sitting in direct sunlight and left to die.
According to the World Wildlife Federation, orangutans (also known as the “red man of the forest”) are losing their natural habitats in Borneo and the neighboring island of Sumatra to palm oil plantations. The plantations are causing clear-cutting of the forest, which makes it easier for hunters and traders to find them. They are also causing fires, driving the great apes out of the safety of the forest. Scientists estimate that less than 60,000 orangutans now remain in the wild on Borneo and Sumatra due to these plantations.
There is still hope for Joss.
"Our team are doing all they can to ease Joss’ suffering." IAR wrote on its Facebook page.
Also on HuffPost: