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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Orangutan Orphanage, written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas. Owlbooks, 2016. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"Climbing is the most important job for a wild orangutan. Babies begin by climbing very small trees. Climbing can be very scary, and orangutan mothers wait patiently until their babies build up the courage to try. That is exactly what the foster mothers at the care center do, too."

Just being able to look into the eyes of that tiny baby on the cover ups the interest for getting inside and learning as much as we can from this new book in the Wildlife Rescue series.

The Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine in Borneo rescues orphaned baby orangutans, cares for them until they are ready to live on their own, while also training them to survive with the help of a dedicated staff of foster parents. Suzy Eszterhas needed special permission to work as a photographer within the center so that she might share her learning with us.

"On any given day, the care center may have over 300 orangutans. Eventually, they will be released back into the wild. Helping so many animals is a big operation. The center has an operating room, an X-ray room, a medical laboratory, a research library, living quarters for the orangutans and the veterinarians, and a private forest."

Doctor Birute Mary Galdikas is the hero who has spent her life getting to know as much as she can about the 'orang'. She braved all manner of danger to stay the course and study them in their home environment. Today, she is a tireless conservator of their habitat and an educator for the world.

As we read, we learn about the threats to their existence. We come to know all the care center does to rescue, raise and return their many charges to a wild place where they will be safe. The written entries are short and chock full of information about the time and patience needed to raise these endearing charges.

The many clear and close-up photos will have all readers mesmerized as they watch the daily routines of feeding, bathing, climbing, clinging to their caregivers, and always learning. It is a complicated and long-lasting process to ensure that the orangs will flourish once they are released to live on their own. There are a few places in Borneo and Sumatra where the public can visit them. This benefits all because the orangs generate income that provides jobs for villagers so that forests remain uncut, giving the orangs a safe place to live. Those visitors who see them in these places get an up-close opportunity to appreciate their demeanor and their intelligence.

Back matter includes suggestions for helping wildlife, including orangutans, a question and answer with the author, a glossary, and index and a list of sources for the research done.
                                       Dr. Birute Galdikas with one of her beloved orangs!

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