Bento and Is update, February 2020

Over the last two months Bento and Is have both become much stronger while exploring the new facility. Their hair has grown much longer and denser and is beautifully shiny. Especially with Is (short for Iskandar) we noticed that his cheekpads have become much bigger and are starting to come forward, indicating that he is now a fully grown giant. 

The two boys cannot really be called be called boys anymore. At night we hear their long calls trembling from the island all the way to the clinic. They have settled in very well with the new caregivers in the Arsari Orangutan Sanctuary, no longer behaving aggressive to any of the staff or each other. Although when we take too long to feed Bento first Is will show his displeasure and come grunting and threatening through the tunnel towards Bento. 

Today I had the pleasure of sharing some real forest durian with Bento and Is. Odom showed me the latest harvest from the forest and of course we had to taste if first to be sure it was good enough for our two majestic guests! ;-) This little durian only has 4-6 single seeds with delicious soft and smooth flesh that tastes sweeter than the durians that are grown everywhere. The best thing about it? It has almost no durian smell, the one factor that sometimes puts off people from trying this king of fruits. We should try to cross them with the regular durian to get bigger fruit but without the smell!

It is great to see the big fruiting season happening right now in most of the eastern parts of Indonesia. With abundant rain after the long serious dry season this is now the best of times for both animals and human beings. It is also a good month because we got the final bureaucratic processes done to bring Bento and Is to their new island home. I am so much looking forward to seeing them enter their retirement home soon! It is great that the Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation is giving us the opportunity to build this new center for adult male orangutans with cheekpads to still have a chance to live free of bars.

Big Bento smelling the durians coming his way!
Big Bento smelling the durians coming his way!

Odom and I testing the quality of the wild durians to see if they are good enough for Bento and Is! ;-) Durio oxleyanus is small with just a single seed per compartment but very sweet tasting and virtually without the characteristic durian smell that some people dislike.


Willie Smits, Feb. 2020