by Philip Jacobson for Mongabay
Kabanjahe, Indonesia — Zulbaidah used to take her family’s pet orangutan on road trips. He’d ride in the back with the kids.
“He was like my own son,” the 55-year-old woman said at her home in this North Sumatran town. “Who wouldn’t love him?”
Those were the good times, when the ape, Krismon, was small and cute. But as the years passed, and he grew more mammoth and strong-willed, the family began to use a cage to keep him under control. Eventually they threw away the key.
By June 2016, when authorities confiscated Krismon, then aged around 20, he had been confined to the tiny enclosure for so long, his legs had wasted away to the point he could no longer stand.
He is now relearning to climb and move at a rehabilitation center near Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. But he lacks the skills to survive in the forest, and his caretakers doubt he can ever return to the wild.
This excerpt from an article appeared on and is courtesy of Mongabay.com and can be read in its entirety here.