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Oshine (pronounced ‘O-sheen’) is an adult female and has been kept as a pet in South Africa for 13 years. Her sedentary and unnatural life style as a pet has left this endangered great ape with a severe weight problem.
Oshine weighs in at a whopping 100kg – double her natural body weight – making her morbidly obese and the largest orang-utan in Britain today.
Oshine’s owner first contacted Monkey World in 2008 when she realised that she could not offer Oshine a good or more natural lifestyle being kept as a pet.
It has taken time to secure and arrange her arrival at Monkey World, but thanks to South African Airways she landed safely at Heathrow Airport on 31st August 2010.
The journey was not an easy one and, with the endangered orang-utan’s poor physical condition, special arrangements were made for the 10.5 hour journey from Johannesburg to London.
Dr Alison Cronin MBE, Director of Monkey World, said:
“We have been working to give Oshine a more natural life with others of her own kind for more than a year. The long-haul journey for such a delicate endangered species such as an orang-utan is fraught with difficulties and danger. With Oshine’s weight problem we were especially concerned about her travel arrangements and making sure that the journey was stress-free and safe.”
The Monkey World team went to Johannesburg, with a specially designed transport box, several days prior to the move in order to get to know Oshine and familiarise her with the orang-utan transport crate. After two days of “playing” in the box, the door was shut for good and Oshine was on her way to a more natural life in the UK.
“Getting to know her, making friends, and playing in the travel crate days ahead of the journey made a real difference,” added Dr Cronin, “as we did not have to anaesthetise Oshine to get her to go into her travelling crate.”
Although a fully-grown adult, Oshine is now living in the Orang-utan Crèche at Monkey World that receives any captive-born babies in Europe whose mothers abandon them. She is now receiving a more natural, healthy diet and meeting others of her own kind for the first time. The Monkey World team are optimistic that Oshine is on the road to a more healthy life; both physically and mentally. Once she loses weight, gets fitter, and understands more about orang-utan behaviour, she will “graduate” into one of two breeding groups of orang-utans kept at Monkey World, where it is hoped that she can start her own family.
“Now that she is at the park, we have her on a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits and she is getting a lot more exercise climbing through the specially designed, two story Orang-utan Crèche,” said Dr Cronin. “It will take a few months for Oshine to reach a more appropriate weight and then she will be ready to meet a new man and consider a family of her own.”