Help with Primate Husbandry as a Gibbon Rehab Volunteer in the rainforest!
As a Gibbon Rehab Volunteer, you will help to care for gibbons that were victims of the illegal widlife trade. Sadly, this pet trade is rampant in Asia. Because wild gibbons live in close-knit families, the capture of one cute baby often involves the killing of the entire family group because parents will vigorously defend their young. These adorable baby gibbons are then sold to ignorant buyers. These days, it is easier because of the use of Social Media where the illegal traders can easily sell their captives by posting cute animal images.
Once the apes get bigger, the owners can no longer cope with them. Sometimes they will give up the animal voluntarily. Or, the gibbon is confiscated by the local Wildlife Department. However, the physical and mental damage to the young gibbon has already been done. Physically, they are usually malnourished because they have not received a proper diet, but human food instead. Mentally, the damage is worse, because they have lost the chance to learn natural skills, such as tree swinging and foraging, from their parents. Devastatingly, the lack of these natural skills may condemn them to spending the rest of their life in captivity, even in a rescue centre or sanctuary.
A long and difficult rehabilitation process
The rehab process is long and intensive. Young gibbons need surrogate mothers, often primate keepers at the rescue centre. So, they will need to fulfill the role of teacher to stimulate natural behaviour. The gibbon must learn natural survival skills before it can be released back into the wild. Normally, it requires 5 to 10 years for each gibbon to learn such behaviours. Then they have a chance to be free, provided a safe place can be found where poachers cannot catch them.
The role of a Gibbon Rehab Volunteer is to assist the primate keepers with food preparation, feeding and enrichment. You will also do daily cleaning of the enclosures. Moreover, there is scope to do animal observation studies.
Responsible interaction with primates to allow release into the wild
Our project follows professional guidelines for rehabilitation and re-introduction into the wild. So, you will learn that physical contact must be kept to a minimum. Not just because primates need to learn natural behaviour, away from human contact. There is also a risk of transmitting diseases between humans and primates. So proper vaccinations are required for a gibbon rehab volunteer.