Walk toward Pondok Dua (Camp Two) and you will likely hear the sound of clapping. The noise isn’t to show appreciation for a stellar performance. It is Tommy, a sweet juvenile orangutan, signaling that he is ready for more delicious fruit. Tommy doesn’t like papaya but he can be tempted by most other fruits in season. Sweet potatoes and corn are also high on the list, but he receives the latter sparingly, as his delicate stomach needs time to adjust.
Tommy lounges in his own enclosure, so that his caregiver Pak Denni can ensure this sweet youngster eats heartily. He is easily recognizable, even without introductions. Tommy’s beautiful paisley-shaped eyes stare out at the world like liquid brown pools. His flame-coloured hair is growing thicker and more plentiful. He will reach out from his enclosure and warmly take a visitor’s hand, eyeing him or her curiously.
Tommy is affectionate with all those who cross his path. He plays well with other orangutans, but also likes to explore the Learning Forest on his own. On a recent drizzly day, Tommy wandered further and higher in the trees than we had ever seen him venture before. As the day was coming to an end, he was still having such a good time exploring that he would not come back to his sleeping enclosure. However his attentive caregiver knew how to get Tommy’s attention. By brandishing some milk, Pak Denni was able to convince Tommy that playtime was over for the day. “He slid down the tree like it was a fire pole; he loves milk!” he laughed.
Indeed, Tommy, who was a famously picky eater, is now clapping and making noisy demands for food, a sure sign that this sweet orangutan is growing as he should. We can’t wait to see what his new fruit/ flavour of the month will be!