By Hannah Stevens @hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: International Animal Rescue
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Didik the orangutan captured hearts around the world when he was brought to International Animal Rescue’s (IAR) orangutan centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan - in Indonesian Borneo - with a bullet lodged in his shoulder.
IAR were alerted to Didik’s condition after he was handed over to a shopkeeper named Cuan in Sandai Kiri, Ketapang.
After a mysterious man handed over the baby and hurried off, Cuan cared for the traumatised orangutan for three days while he sought advice on how to help him.
Once they were alerted to his plight, a rescue team from IAR and officials from Natural Resources Conversation Agency travelled to Sandai and brought him back to the orangutan rescue centre for treatment.
When he arrived Didik had a severe fungal skin condition, an eye infection and was severely malnourished.
Veterinarian and programme director of IAR Indonesia Dr Karmele Llano Sanchez said: “His body is very small but after examining his teeth we estimate him to be about 18 months old.
“Most likely his mother has been shot, even killed. Tragically quite often when adult orangutans are shot, their babies are hit and die too.
“For an animal like an orangutan, witnessing the death of its mother is a profoundly shocking experience.
“That is undoubtedly why Didik looks so sad and depressed. It will take a long time for him tor recover from the terrible trauma he has been through and start to take an interest in his surroundings.”
During his first few weeks at the centre Didik was kept in quarantine and fed with a syringe as he was reluctant to eat. He was also given a large cuddly toy to comfort him, as baby orangutans usually stay with their mothers for up to eight years in the wild.
IAR veterinarian Sulhi Aufa brought Didik out of quarantine a few weeks later to encourage him to start climbing. At first he was wary of heights but once Uwi began placing spoonfuls of porridge on the branches to entice him, he was unstoppable.
After weeks of a nutritious diet and medical treatment, IAR’s veterinary team decided he was strong enough to be put under anaesthetic to have the bullet removed.
Vet Ayu Budi Handayani said: “The surgery went without a hitch. Fortunately the bullet was lodged close to the surface of the skin so it was a straightforward procedure to remove it.
“No one could call Didik lucky after all he’s been through but certainly he was fortunate to suffer only a fairly superficial wound after most likely being shot by the same gun that killed his mother.
“Didik looks very handsome now. We are still treating the skin where the bullet entered his body but it is healing beautifully.”
Now Didik has been moved into the centre’s orangutan pre-school where he is making friends with his fellow orphans and honing his natural climbing skills using the centre’s extensive climbing apparatus.
IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight OBE said: “It is heartbreaking to see a young animal with such a look of sadness and pain in his eyes.
“Didik has already suffered terrible trauma in his short life. Now it is up to our team of vets and carers to help him recover, both mentally and physically.
“He will spend years at our centre with more than 100 orangutans that are being prepared for release back into the wild one day.
“We can’t give Didik back his mother but we will do all we can to give him back his freedom.”