The latest addition at Purbeck’s Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre holds the unenviable title of the largest orangutan in Britain. Oshine, a morbidly obese adult female, weighs in at a massive 100kg, which is double her natural bodyweight. Experts say Oshine piled on the pounds because of her unnatural lifestyle – she was kept as a pet for 13 years in South Africa and led a sedentary existence.
But a crash diet and plenty of exercise will hopefully work wonders, says Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin. “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 orangutan creche,” 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.”
Because of Oshine’s poor condition, her journey from Johannesburg was not an easy one. Dr Cronin explained: “The long haul journey for such a delicate endangered species such as an orangutan 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.” Oshine travelled in a specially-designed transport crate, which she was introduced to by the Monkey World team several days before making the trip.
Dr Cronin said: “Getting to know her, making friends and playing in the travel crate days ahead of the journey made a real difference, as we did not have to anaesthetise Oshine to get her to go into her travelling crate.” Oshine is currently staying at the Dorset sanctuary’s orangutan creche, that receives captive-born babies whose mothers abandon them. Once she loses weight and gets fitter she will graduate into one of the Monkey World’s two orangutan breeding groups.