We returned to Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue centre for the month of August to complete our Slow Loris Project. We were pleased to discover on our return that alot had been achieved whilst we had been in Singapore – our fellow volunteers had been very busy!
Painting had started on the second row of cages and the bamboo slats had started going up. The purpose of these slats was to give each individual privacy from their next door neighbour, and to darken the enclosure a little more as these animals are nocturnal. The effect the bamboo had was brilliant, however splitting and sawing the slats was a very physically tiring job, which we both did day in day out for one week.
I can safely say I have never worked so physically hard in my entire life. Some days I just couldn’t see an end to it. I got quite emotional at some points, I think just because my body and brain was so tired. I especially struggled the day after one of my best friends wedding – my friends are the greatest and I had so many wonderful messages, videos and pictures of them from that day it just all git a bit too much! Probably the first real homesick feeling I have had yet. However, what kept me going was feeding the little Slowies everyday in their horrible depressing cages. Seeing those cages on a daily basis and their beautiful little faces staring out at you from the dark really helped me stay positive. I know Paul would agree with me there.
As every mile stone was reached (the completion of grinding rust, painting, bamboo slats, adding chicken wire for snake prevention) our goal came a little closer. As I said we would never have completed this whole project at the speed we did (in total two and a half months) if it wasn’t for our amazing team there – the staff who helped and the other volunteers. Everyone worked so bloody hard. It gives you such a moral boast that there are so many good people out there, willing to do anything asked to aid animals. Most of the people who helped us never had the opportunity to see first hand the completion of the project, but they put 110% into what they were doing, and for that both Paul and I will be eternally grateful.
Our final hurdle was to design and greenarise the enclosures. Our Moto for the design – think ‘upside down rainforest’. Slow Loris’ live in the canopy of rainforests, sometimes venturing down onto the floor but primarily life is spent in the trees and jungle foliage. With this in mind we were given permission to cut down thick jungle vine and trees in an area being cleared for a primate enclosure.
Within six days we had set up all 15 enclosures. Greenarising consisted on making bamboo vases and attaching them in various places around the enclosures, and filling them with bamboo branches. We secured palm frongs and other large leaves from the ceiling to try and give them so more cover. Feeding platforms were also added.
The design of the enclosures was also to aid easy access for staff and volunteers so we could go in and retrieve old food, poo pick and add more greenery in easily with minimal disturbance.
The first to occupy their new residence was Katie the KusKus. It was decided early on that she could have a spare enclosure as her previous enclosure was very inadequate for her. KusKus are marsupials, and live high up in the canopy of the rainforests. Katie is endemic to Sulawesi, so there are high hopes of her being able to be re-released as it’s much easier to relocate endemic individuals over animals who do not live in the country.
It was a very exciting day, seeing the first occupant arrive! The plan was to do a quick health check on her however she was much more fiesty than anticipated! Her claws are huge, she is like a mini bear in that respect. Simon and Angela (the guys who manage the centre) got her into a carrier, and Katie put up a fight let me tell you!
Katie settled in very quickly into her new enclosure. It was a joy to see her exploring her new climbing routes and finding her feeling platforms. In her old enclosure she could barely climb as it was so small – please remember that this is not out of cruelty, it is purely due to the fact the centre is at full capacity and relies solely on donations and volunteer funds. She is much better off here than on somebody’s dinner plate that’s for sure.
So, after the excitement of Katie’s move, it was the turn of our 15 Slow Loris’. It happened over a three day period, and each individual had a health check before being moved. Paul and I helped with these, and it was amazing seeing these incredible creatures up close. They are skilled contortionists, moving their bodies in incredible ways. Simon had quite a job handling them all! Paul’s job was to write down all our findings, and I visually checked them with Simon for anything abnormal. We also tried to look at their teeth, to note down who had had their canines removed/cut as unfortunately this makes the individual unable to ever be re-released as he/she would be comprised in the wild. People cut or remove the canines as this removes the Loris’ ability to defend themselves. The Loris will be fully awake whilst their teeth are being ripped out or brutally cut. These little creatures stand no chance once people get their hands on them, and it’s devastating to see.
Each individual was restrained and placed into a carrier ready for their health check
Dental checks were very important – as you can see this individual’s teeth are in quite good condition except for some tartar on his lower right canine
However at least the Loris’ who cannot be released have a decent ‘forever home’ now, and will be well looked after.
Our health checks went well – the majority of the individuals weight between 900g-1kg, which is a healthy weight. We did have a couple who were underweight, and one who needs a canine removed (a common occurrence post traumatic tooth pulling/cutting). Another had quite bad alopecia on his back legs – this is usually a stress related issue so we are hoping his new enclosure will help wirh this.
Alopecia can also be seen along the flank
Once we had confirmed which individual we had (this was done by scanning the microchip which they had inserted on arrival a year ago), taken a identity picture and completed the health check, we started to move them.
Releasing them into their new enclosures is a feeling I will never forget. Seeing their little head peak out of the carrier, taking their new surroundings in – it was so special. Some were very shy, moving very slowly looking all around them. Others dashed out so fast you have to question why they are called ‘Slow’ Loris! Watching them climbing and exploring was just brilliant. To see them have room to move, to hang upside down, to climb horizontally and vertically – we cannot give them the space of a rainforest but we can give them hope and comfort, and with this I hope happiness.
It took a couple of days for them to feel comfortable enough to come nearer the front of their enclosure to eat and to find their preferred sleeping areas, but this was expected. We feel a little sad we won’t see them fully settled in, you really end up feeling so responsible for them it really breaks my heart to leave them! However we know they’re in safe hands at Tasikoki.
We’ve given them a new lease of life, and for us they’ve shown us that you really can make a difference – just never give up.
If it wasn’t for the most generous donators who at the time of writing achieved a staggering $833 total towards the project we would not have managed to even start! To everybody who donated, thankyou for believing in us. Every penny went straight into the project, and we were touched at the generosity of you all.
Donations are still welcome towards the project and the continuing care of 15 Javan Slow Loris’.