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Archive for April 13th, 2009

Way back when, when my big kids were little, I opted out of the whole Bunny thing at Easter. The late-night visitor at our house ladened with chocolate was, instead, the Easter Ape.

Working as I did at the time with various non-human primates that charmed me daily … and even being peed at and threatened repeatedly by one perpetually pissed off Golden Bellied Mangaby (RIP, Pinot) didn’t tarnish the experience … certainly put the color in my jellybeans, so the substitution made perfect sense.

After all, an orang utan nest looks much more like the contents of an Easter basket than anything a rabbit would leave behind.

Imagine my delight, then, when this story popped up at the tail end of my Easter weekend!

A hitherto unknown population of orangutans numbering perhaps 1-2,000 has been found on the island of Borneo, conservation researchers say.

What a gift!

Not that 1,200 individuals will be enough to resurrect an entire species from the threat of extinction, but if this population is genetically diverse, it sure won’t hurt.

Finding more than 200 night nests in a few kilometers of forest has researchers speculating that this might be, ” … a kind of orangutan refugee camp – with several groups moving into the same area following widespread forest fires.”

That is not only worrying, but extremely interesting, as orangs are solitary living beings by nature and any version of communal congregating is very unusual outside the captive population that is forced to adjust to constant proximity of others.

This says a lot about the adaptability of these great apes. If, indeed, it is the case that in times of habitat loss and the tremendous stress that creates orang utans are able to forgo their reclusive wanderings, gather together and coexist in a self-made “community” without artificial prompts like reintroduction of captives into the population or feeding stations, their resourcefulness should be noted and admired.

Now, if the humans around will just leave them alone, stop destroying the forests for the environmental and eventual economic nightmare of monoculture and develop at least a fraction of the good sense the apes have … well, I for one will be happy to leave Easter to the rabbits.

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