An extremely rare, blue-eyed, albino orangutan rescued from a cage in Borneo could soon be released back into the wild.
On April 29, officials at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) received a tip from the local police chief that some villagers in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province were holding a Bornean orangutan captive. When the rescue team arrived at the Tanggirang village they discovered that instead of the signature orange-reddish brown hair, the great ape had white hair, a paler skin color, and blue eyes. The mammal was also very sensitive to light.
A preliminary examination by medical experts revealed that the great ape is an extremely rare albino orangutan. This is the first such specimen encountered by the non-profit since it was founded to conserve the endangered Bornean orangutan and its habitat 25 years ago. The five-year-old female, who was in captivity for two days before being rescued, is currently undergoing health tests at the foundation’s rehabilitation center.
The rescuers noticed there was dried blood around the creature’s nose, which they believe occurred when the ape was fighting villagers to be freed.
Officials say they will decide on whether to release the great ape back into the wild or keep her at the center, which currently houses almost 750 orangutans, once they are assured she is healthy.
The female orangutan might be eventually released back into the jungle.
It normally takes up to eight years to teach a captive orangutan to find its own food and survive independently — but this orangutan may be released much more quickly than that.
"She is showing some wild behaviour," said the foundation's Nico Hermanu. "We think she may be able to return to the wild."
"Because of her hair colour and eye colour, and her sensitivity to light we estimate that she is albino," said Mr Hermanu.
He said the group was not told why the albino orangutan had been taken by locals. "Our information is that she had been captured only two days earlier," said Mr Hermanu.