This wildlife rescue story is absolutely heartbreaking, but it comes with a glimmer of hope. When a rescue team from International Animal Rescue found Gito the baby orangutan in West Borneo, they feared they were too late. They found the baby dumped in a filthy cardboard box and left to die.
Gitos mother had been killed by poachers and he had been sold for a few dollars as a pet to a villager.
Even the IARs most hardened rescuers were shocked by the state he was in. His arms were folded corpse-like across his tiny body and he looked almost mummified in his cardboard coffin. Gito had barely any hair on his body and his skin was grey and flaking from a highly contagious parasitic skin infection. The constant itching and pain must have been excruciating.
He was rushed to their vet clinic nine hours away, and miraculously, he survived the journey. Doctors evaluated him and discovered that his limbs were curled up and crooked from malnutrition. His physical condition was similar to Budis, another baby orangutan kept in a chicken coop and also subjected to malnutrition that left his body in a pitiful state.
To relieve the intense itching from his severe sarcoptic mange, rescuers massaged coconut oil into his skin to soothe and soften it.
Its hard to stomach the shocking state Gito was in when we rescued him. Our team has seen a significant increase in the number of baby orangutans being kept as pets and some of them have only recently been taken from the wild. This is the result of the forest fires devastating Indonesia and leaving wild orangutans without food or shelter, explains Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue. Those that escape being burnt alive are left exposed and vulnerable, under threat of starving to death or being killed or captured by human beings.
Gito is in safe hands now but he, like Budi and the many other babies before him, will need a lot of care and time to recover.
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