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Mely the orangutan freed from her chains after 15 years

By Jane Fazackarley     Nov 12, 2010 in World
A team from International Animal Rescue(IAR) in Indonesia have freed an orangutan that had been left chained to a balcony in Borneo.
According to a press release from the International Animal Rescue website, Mely the orangutan was taken from the wild by a fisherman who shot her mother and then took the orangutan home as a pet for his children. Mely was chained up outside of his home for 15 years and fed on scraps and noodles, the family no longer interested in her once she wasn't a baby.
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International Animal Rescue
Mely was freed on October 22 when a rescue team showed up with an official license to confiscate her and with members of the police force, who have to be there when an orangutan who has been held in captivity is seized.
Karmele Llano Sanchez , Veterinary Director of IAR in Indonesia, said:
"Having waited months for the go ahead to rescue her, on Friday we received a call telling us that it was all systems go. There was very little time to plan or prepare. We knew Mely's owner had been trying to sell her and we were terrified of arriving to find that she had vanished – along with the chance to save her. Thankfully she was still there and her owner handed her over without argument."
Mely was described as being "frightened" and "bewildered" by all that was going on. Rescuers were unable to release the padlock that was around Mely's neck so she was taken to a transport crate still with her chain but it was removed later at the IAR rescue centre.
Following her rescue Mely was transported in a special designed crate. The first part of her journey was by boat. The next part was by road, a journey which lasted four hours. Then, once her documentation was checked, she was taken by air to Ketapang.
When Mely arrived at the rescue centre she had to be lightly sedated so that the chain could be removed from her neck and some medical checks were carried out.
An update on the International Animal Rescue blog says that Mely will be learning how to climb and will learn to search for food from the ground of her enclosure.
Mely's story had featured on the BBC show Panorama and also appeared in the Daily Mail. Mail readers are reported to have donated £5000 to help fund Mely's rescue.
In a press release, Alan Knight, Chief Executive of IAR said:
"I'm overjoyed at the news that Mely has been cut free and is safely in the expert care of our team in West Kalimantan."
"Sadly Mely will not be the last orangutan we are called upon to rescue. Our team has already told me of others in captivity that are desperately in need of our help. But we're determined not to let them down. Human beings are responsible for causing their suffering, and it's the least we can do to give them a second chance in life."
Further information about the work of the charity can be found here.
Orangutans are an endangered species. International Animal Rescue tell me that 100 years ago there were more than 315,000 orangutans in the wild. This figure is now less than 50,000 with their numbers declining year on year.
Thanks to Lis Key of International Animal Rescue for her help with this article.
*Pictures courtesy of International Animal Rescue.
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