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Two weeks ago, the BOS Foundation closed both of its orangutan rehabilitation centres to the public due to the current global pandemic. Behind the closed gates, however, rehabilitation activities are still running, albeit with several additions to our daily standard operating procedures (SOPs). Since we cannot completely eliminate contact with orangutans - as they need daily food and care - our focus is now on keeping our medical team, surrogate mothers, and technicians who work closely with orangutans in good health and in a safe working environment. We need to ensure that our orangutans, with 97% of the same DNA as humans, are not exposed to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from potential human carriers around them.

Employees who continue to work closely with orangutans are now given routine temperature checks twice daily, and must take leave from work as soon as they develop a fever or feel unwell. Our staff are required to wash their hands more often than usual, and wear surgical masks and protective gloves. All disposable items are burned after the working day is over. These procedures have resulted in the increased use of hand soap, masks, and gloves; meanwhile, the market supply of these items is dwindling and prices are skyrocketing. The gloves that our staff rely on daily have seen a 167% increase in price, and whenever we need a new box of surgical masks to protect our veterinarians, we are paying a 762% markup in pricing!

While the humans at our rehabilitation centres work hard to adjust to these new measures, the orangutans are going about their usual business, working through the stages of rehabilitation in Forest School. Their routine has not changed; they still depart for the forest early in the morning, and return in the late afternoon after a day of discovery and learning.

The feeding schedule for orangutans at our rehabilitation centres and on pre-release islands is also still the same: twice daily, in the morning and late afternoon. The same goes for the cleaning of orangutan enclosures, with routine, scheduled cleaning being carried out in the morning and late afternoon. We also maintain a strict regime of spraying disinfectant around the compound and enclosures three times a week to ensure a clean and healthy environment.

Orangutans on the playground

Cleaning enclosures

Veterinarians at work

Surrogate mothers at work

Encrichment at work

Our dedicated veterinarians, surrogate mothers, and technicians are working tirelessly to ensure that the orangutans in our centres remain safe and healthy. Their dedication and efforts contribute greatly to the very survival of this Critically Endangered species. Every one of our team members is doing their best to make sure they stay in good health and follow all safety procedures, both to protect the orangutans in their care and their own loving families waiting for them at home.

We are grateful that so far there have been no cases of COVID-19 in and around our orangutan rehabilitation centres. Nonetheless, we have prepared emergency SOPs for quick response if required. 

While the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that people will not forget the plight of orangutans, and that the campaign for their survival will continue. You can offer your support through the internet, from the safety of your home. We are all in this together.

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