Cages Preceed Freedom
The Orangutan Quarantine Center meets all the basic requirements: ease of transport, access to medical facilities, good food and water for the animals, and all in a beautiful green and secluded location.
The location of SOCP's Batu Mbelin Quarantine Center meets all the requirements for a facility of this nature. It is just one hour from the large city of Medan, meaning it is well connected for land, air and sea transport, and well equipped hospitals and medical laboratories. It is surrounded by small scale local farms that provide a constant but varied supply of fruit and vegetables for the orangutans. The site itself has three freshwater springs, meaning all the water we use for drinking and cage cleaning is perfectly clean and safe. Despite this, it is also in a very green, lush and secluded location, off the beaten track (to avoid unwanted visitors), and fully supported by the local communities.
The local villages ("kampungs") were very interested in the project from the start. The facilities were built by local villagers and most of the current staff of the quarantine grew up in these kampungs. Furthermore, the majority of the orangutans food stuffs comprise locally grown fruit and vegetables for which we pay a very reasonable price, since the farmers know they don't have to go far or wait all day at the roadside to sell their produce. By nurturing these close ties to the local villages we have managed to foster an excellent 'community spirit' and can count on the full support from the indigenous Karo Batak people.
The quarantine facilities:
- One fully equipped and comprehensive clinic comprising an examination room, laboratory, office, operating theatre complete with x-ray and anaesthesia equipment, staff bedroom, autopsy room, store and dark-room (for developing x-rays).
- Four units of four isolation cages (16 cages in total) for housing orangutans during their initial full quarantine period. These are designed to be as flexible as possible. We can shut down the doors to create four small cages or open them up to create one large one, and any combination in between.
- One set of socialisation cages. This unit comprises 6 cages in total: two very large, two medium and two small. As with the isolation cages, each is interconnected so we can have any combination of large or small cages we choose. The design also allows orangutans to be gradually introduced to each other, first visually and then via contact through barwork, before eventually being mixed in the same cage together. This minimises the stress of new introductions for all concerned
- Four long-term holding cages for orangutans that cannot be released to the wild in the foreseeable future. This includes those with disabilities or potentially contagious illness. To date there are two blind orangutans (Leuser and Gobber) in these cages and one who is a carrier of hepatitis B, which precludes him from being released even though he shows no symptoms of the disease.
- Additional facilities that are required for the management and operation of the station such as staff accommodation, a food storage and processing building, a composting facility, staff canteen, generator housing, etc.