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The Sad Story of Leuser, the Sumatran Orangutan

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Think cats are the only creatures with nine lives? An orangutan named Leuser might disagree.

In February 2004, the 5-year-old Sumatran orangutan was en route to Jakarta—he was destined to be a gift—when a team from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) rescued him. The group took him back to a site near Jambi’s Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in central Sumatra, where they helped to retrain him in the ways of wild orangutans. The primate did well—the team noted that he was an excellent nest builder and forager—and in December 2004, they released Leuser into the park to fend for himself as a wild orangutan.

SOCP had high hopes that Leuser would establish himself in the wild, and be a part of saving the species. Both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. In 2004, it was reported that approximately 7400 Sumatran orangutans remained in the wild (most of the population inhabits the Leuser Ecosystem, so you know where our guy got his name!), but that the population was decreasing.

Unfortunately, being released might have been the worst thing that could have happened to Leuser. In 2006, he was captured and shot by villagers outside of the park.

Once again, SOCP came to the rescue. They managed to save Leuser before he was killed or sold, but by then, he had already been shot 62 times by air rifle pellets; he was even shot in both eyes, blinding him. While the villagers claim they shot him so they could catch him and sell him, officials from the rescue group claim they were really just doing it for "fun." Five of the villagers were prosecuted and sentenced to six months in jail.

After his ordeal, Leuser was given a permanent home with the SOCP. In 2010, the group introduced him to a female orangutan, Gober, who was also blind (this time due to natural causes: she had cataracts). Six months later, Gober gave birth to healthy twins—a boy and a girl. Even if Gober and Leuser can’t ever be released into the wild, they can still play an important role in the survival of their species. And hopefully now that he has a safe home, Leuser won’t have any use for his seven additional lives.

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Washington, D.C. Residents Pay Tribute to Fallen 325-Year-Old Oak Tree
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Washington, D.C. is perhaps most famous for its historic monuments and buildings, but residents of the city’s Northwest quadrant recently took time to mourn the death of a centuries-old tree, according to NPR.

The sturdy red oak in D.C.’s Shepherd Park neighborhood was 75 feet tall and its trunk was 5.5 feet wide, with sweeping branches that soared over the porch of an adjacent home. Experts believe it first took root in the late 1600s, making it around 325 years old.

Washington, D.C. wasn’t founded until 1790, so the tree predated the creation of the city. Over the centuries, it stood tall amid countless wars, presidents, and national triumphs and tragedies—but it recently fell victim to the ravages of time and gravity when a large section of its cracked trunk splintered off and fell to the ground.

Nobody was injured and property damage was minimal, but the arduous cleanup process took a six-member crew eight hours to complete, according to The Washington Post. They deployed a 100-ton crane to remove the tree—a job that cost $12,000, as two of the tree's base parts weighed 17,000 pounds and 14,000 pounds, respectively.

All that remains of the tree is its stump, which provided experts clues about its age through its rings. John Anna of Adirondack Tree Experts, the company tasked with removing the tree, told the Post that the red oak was one of the oldest trees he’d seen in his 30-year regional career. As for locals, many had enjoyed its shade for years and felt like they’d “lost a member of [the] family,” a former neighborhood resident named Ruth Jordan told the Post.

[h/t NPR]

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Paris to Turn Its Parks and Gardens into 24-Hour Summer Attractions
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If you're visiting Paris this summer, consider packing a picnic basket. As Travel + Leisure reports, city officials will launch a two-month initiative in July to keep 16 of the metro area’s largest parks and gardens open 24 hours a day.

Called "Les Jardins Nocturnes" (the Night Gardens), the event will run from July 1 through September 3. Nature lovers can enjoy moonlit green spaces like the Parc des Buttes Chaumont—which has a Roman temple replica perched atop a cliff, overlooking a man-made lake—and the sweeping green lawns of the Parc Montsouris in the city’s 14th arrondissement.

More than 130 of Paris’s smaller parks and gardens are already open to the public during the evening. Once Les Jardins Nocturnes begins in July, nearly half of all of the city's green spaces will go 24/7. According to officials, the seasonal initiative is intended to help Parisians enjoy the city’s natural attractions after work, and take summer strolls during the cooler evening hours.

City parks aren’t always the safest places at night, which is why security teams will be deployed to keep an eye on late-night patrons. But while you're embarking on evening nature excursions, make sure to mind your manners: In 2016, Paris launched a similar parks program, and nearly 700 residents near the Parc Montsouris signed a protest petition complaining about excessive noise and litter.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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