After 12 months spent chained to a crumbling wall in solitary confinement, Mingky the orphaned orangutan had no trust left for humans. Certainly, they had never given him any reason to think otherwise. But he was about to find out that not all humans feel the same way about orangutans.
Still, up to that point, Mingky’s life had been rather grim. To begin, after his mother was killed he was left all alone in the world. In 2015, meanwhile, poachers then captured the young ape as he wandered through a wooded area in Indonesia. It seemed as if his luck was just getting worse.
It is suspected that the poachers then gave the little orangutan to a friend. And, as a consequence, poor Mingky was then chained by the neck and tied to a wall down a narrow alleyway at the back of a residential property. The beautiful animal had a mere two feet of space to move in the tiny opening between the homes.
Sadly for Mingky, this crumbling prison would become his home for an entire year. So lonely was the wild creature in this alien world, moreover, that he would hug himself to sleep at night. His own arms, it seemed, were the only comfort that he could find.
And if Mingky’s story couldn’t get any more heartbreaking, his new owner had a sadistic purpose for keeping the baby orangutan. Every so often, he would be untied from the wall and used to entertain friends and family.
“The man who was holding Mingky captive said he wanted him to be chained in his premises as entertainment for his family,” explained Panut Hadisiswoyo from the Orangutan Information Center in Indonesia. “He’d feed him bits of fruit and sometimes rice. But it was no life for Mingky.”
In fact, if it wasn’t for the Orangutan Information Centre’s hard work, it’s unknown what would have become of little Mingky. Based in the North Sumatran city of Medan, the non-profit organization rescue orangutans in immediate danger. In addition, it also works alongside Indonesian communities to inform them about the importance of orangutan conservation.
Explaining how the organization was made aware of Mingky’s dire situation, Hadisiswoyo said in an October 2016 interview with The Dodo, “Through our [intelligence network, we] discovered the orangutan illegally held in a house in a rural area near Blang Pidie city, Aceh Barat Daya. He was chained to a wall between two houses, and we estimated that he was around three years old.”
Indeed, Mingky’s keeper was breaking the law by keeping the orangutan on his property. The team from the Orangutan Information Centre then duly contacted the local police, who helped them to finally free the poor animal.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, little Mingky had grown so suspicious of humans that he became violent during his rescue. The team was left with little choice, then, but to tranquilize him. According to eyewitnesses on the scene, moreover, the ape was “terrified” of his rescuers.
As a result, it looked as though the center was going to have a tough job on their hands to rehabilitate this traumatized primate. Mingky was taken back to the organization’s sanctuary, where their dedicated team would work hard to rebuild the orangutan’s confidence and strength before releasing him into the wild.
Meanwhile, following Mingky’s rescue the Orangutan Information Centre posted a photo album documenting the ape’s plight and subsequent liberation on its Facebook page. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pictures caused a stir online, receiving over 600 shares and 700 reactions.
“Why?” one of the many comments simply asked. “Pointless solitary confinement for a hugely social animal. One can only imagine the emotional, let alone physical, damage done to this innocent, magnificent creature. Disgusting cruelty!”
“Heartbreaking to think what he’s been through in the last year,” another added. “Thank God you found him. So happy to hear he is being rehabilitated and may one day be released into the wild,” the post concluded.
Meanwhile, Mingky’s owner managed to escape prosecution as he claimed that the ape was given to him. He also willingly surrendered the animal when rescue teams arrived. Thankfully, this allowed the team to expertly deal with the terrified ape and smoothly deliver him to safety.
Unfortunately, however, it’s not unusual for orangutans to be kept as illegal pets in Indonesia. Indeed, it is believed that hundreds of infant orangutans are take from the wild each year. In order to do this, poachers often kill the mother before snatching her baby from her dead body – an event which may have happened in Mingky’s case.
And the illegal pet trade has been devastating for wild populations of orangutans, who are also facing threats from hunting and habitat loss due to the growth of palm oil forests. As a result, these amazing creatures are now classified as critically endangered, with just 60,000 left in the wild.
Back at the orangutan sanctuary, though, fortunately Mingky has a bright future ahead of him. “The orangutan would have been suffering forever, but luckily our team discovered him,” the center revealed in a Facebook update. “He is now in safe hands. Our team is a lifeline for many orangutans in Sumatra.”
“It is extremely important that our team is able to continue to be in the field monitoring conflict situations and/or isolated forest patches containing orangutans, so that these smaller but still vital populations are not lost,” he added.
And though he’ll never get back his murdered mother, or the year he spent in captivity, Mingky is living proof that the abuse of orangutans will not be tolerated. Indeed, we owe it to them, as one of our closest animal relatives, to preserve their species for years to come.