Life in Bali Safari Park
Okay, I’m as open minded as the next orangutan but, if you ask me, the human currently skipping around the Safari Park is a few bananas short of a bunch – if you know what I mean. Let’s face it, humans walk weird enough as it is - using only two legs instead of on going all fours. But on top of that, this maniac is doing some awkward movement that my trainer calls "skipping". For God’s sake, it’s 85 degrees outside and the humidity is off the charts. What would possess anyone to do something like this? And, what's more, he’s making this loud grunting noise. You would think he’s being chased by a bunch of hyenas or something. On second thought, he kind of sounds like a hyena with indigestion!
The fact is that, from what my trainer tells me, humans and orangutans have 97% of the same DNA. Ah, but what a difference that 3% makes. Humans are pathetically weak, their arms are way too short and the lack of dexterity of their feet is shocking. And, to make things worse, they put coverings on their feet so they can’t practice picking things up with their toes even if they wanted to. And what is the story with how they make funny shapes with the hair on their heads?
Don’t get me wrong - I like humans in general, although some do smell fairly horrible. Of course, there are some really bad humans who still kidnap baby orangutans and try to sell them on the black market. In fact, that’s how I ended up in this Safari Park. Two of those mean people went to our rainforest in Borneo, shot my mother and, when they saw that she could no longer protect us, they chased after us. We were terrified. Once they caught us, they threw us in a crate and took us for a long ride. I don’t remember much after that but, fortunately, I was rescued and ended up in this Bali Safari Park.
That was about 8 years ago and Rian, my trainer, has been like a mother to me. I don't know what I would have done without him. Normally, Mom would have looked after me until around my sixth birthday but Rian still gives me the royal treatment. Hey, I’m not complaining. I have some good-natured friends, the food is decent and I've been told I've got a good 50 years of fun and games ahead of me. Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to my brother.
Anyway, for the last few days, Rian has been practicing putting me on his back and doing this bizarre skipping movement. And Rian smiles when he’s doing this like it’s some kind of inside joke. Well, I hope this has nothing to do with the nut skipping around the Park. Hmm... It better not be what I’m thinking. I’m totally content to just sit back on Rian’s motorcycle and take in the sights. “Orangutan” is a Malay word meaning “person of the forest” and I am endlessly fascinated by these unfortunate human persons who don’t know the joy of living in trees. They come in so different many shapes, sizes and temperaments and they are so unpredictable.
Uh oh, the skipping guy (I nicknamed him “Skippy”) seems to have finished and is looking in my direction. Rian is carrying me over to the nut and…wait! What’s going on?! Rian is putting me on Skippy’s back. This is embarrassing! It’s a good thing that the other orangs aren’t here to see this. As it is, Theresa, the elephant who is on the course, is going to have a field day with this with the other pachyderms. I’ll see if I can bribe her with some bananas to keep quiet.
All right, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Skippy only skipped with me for a few minutes and then Rian retrieved me. After the group photo, I heard Skippy telling a reporter that he skipped for 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles in just under 30 minutes, and that he was breaking some kind of Guinness record. He said he loves to skip because it's such good exercise and so joyful. Well, good for him. I guess you can’t always judge a mango by its skin. I was also impressed with what it said on the back of Skippy’s tee shirt. Rian read it out for me – “There is only one perfect road and that road is ahead of you, always ahead of you. – Sri Chinmoy.”
Hey, on second thought, maybe there is no reason to keep this a secret! I can brag to my friends that I was part of a world record! I wonder what the record is for most bananas eaten in a minute?
Well, it looks like all the excitement is over. Each day is a new adventure. I’m thrilled that I got a chance to hang out on Rian’s shiny new motorcycle. Also, I made sure to give Tim, the curator, a sad look so he will probably feel guilty and give me some treats later. These humans really aren’t that bad once you learn how to handle them!