'Very Confident' Albino Orangutan Returns to Jungle

Alba was rescued from a village last year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2018 2:31 AM CST
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In this Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, photo. Alba, an albino orangutan, sits inside a cage before being released at Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Andi Jatmiko)
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(Newser) – The world's only known albino orangutan climbed trees, foraged for food, and began building a nest after being released into a remote Borneo jungle more than a year after conservation officials found her starving and dehydrated in an Indonesian village. The Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation says the great ape, called Alba after thousands worldwide responded to an appeal for a name, has tripled in weight since being rescued in April last year. Her name means "white" in Latin and "dawn" in Spanish. Alba and another rehabilitated orangutan, Kika, were released inside Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park on Wednesday after a more than 24-hour journey from their rehabilitation center by vehicle, boat, and hiking, the AP reports.

The foundation originally planned to create a 12-acre "forest island" for Alba rather than a release into truly natural habitat because of health issues related to her albinism including poor sight and hearing and the possibility of skin cancer. But conservation agencies decided it was appropriate to release Alba into the wild because of her strong physical condition and intrinsically wild behavior. She will be electronically tracked and regularly monitored by a medical team. "Alba has no inferiority complex as we imagined before. She is very confident compared to other orangutans," says veterinarian Agus Fathoni. "I think the real threat actually comes from humans," he says. "What we're worried about is poaching where this very special condition makes her a target." (A 62-year-old orangutan that died this year left an "incredible legacy.")

(Read more orangutans stories.)

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