How Pongky the Orangutan Overcame His Plight

There are a mere 7,500 Sumatran Orangutans left in the wild, and their numbers are rapidly decreasing. The illegal pet trade is one reason for their decline, particularly in Sumatra, Indonesia. supports the Sumatran Orangutan Society to save orangutans that have been kept illegally as pets, or who are stranded in farmlands, by rehabilitating and relocating them to safer forests they can call home. One such orangutan is named Pongky.


Pongky was first found as an illegal pet in Sumatra in July 2013. It’s pretty much certain he was born in the wild and taken as an infant—his mother almost undoubtedly killed during his capture. When Pongky was first discovered, he was locked in a small cage with no access to open space, very limited room to move, and only a single rope. First transferred to a zoo, the Sumatran Orangutan Society worked tirelessly to transfer Pongky to the orangutan care center in Northern Sumatra with the aim of eventually returning him back to the wild. And after two years, the work paid off!

Despite having to go through surgery to remove his eye because of damage he sustained during his years in capture, Pongky is now healing rapidly. He is given extra enrichment daily in order to keep him busy, and the care staff report that he is especially enjoying making nests out of blankets while he heals! Once he has fully healed from the surgery, the care center team will prepare him for reintroduction. Pongky will be followed as he gets accustomed to his new surroundings, until he makes his way deep into the forest to find his own territory and live wild and free.

A contemplative Pongky

Since 2001, over 260 orangutans have been released at the edge of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Jambi province and in the Jantho Wildlife Reserve in Aceh Province. Not only will Pongky finally be granted his freedom, but he will also have the opportunity to contribute to a new, self-sustaining and genetically viable wild population of this critically endangered species.

To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we ask you to #Give10 (donate $10) to a cause you care about. Know that as always, you will be Giving Where It Matters.

When you #Give10 to help orangutans like Pongky, you are helping treat an orangutan in need. Click here to donate.

by Jim Kober, May 15, 2017