Our planet is home to a great many wonderful things. Some of those things are cute. Some of those things are making the world a better place. And right in the middle of that glorious Venn diagram are cute things that make the world a better place. Orangutan preschool is one of those things. 

The relationship between orangutan mothers and their babies is one of the closest in nature. Unlike many animals, orangutan babies stay close to their mothers for up to eight years, watching, practicing, and learning how to care for themselves. So the bond between mother and baby is not just sweet, it’s also a matter of life and death.

But those relationships are in jeopardy. There are two orangutan species, and both are endangered. The apes live almost exclusively in the treetops, a lifestyle that has become incredibly difficult with the logging boom in Indonesia. An orphaned orangutan is not an uncommon sight in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra. Those babies are the future, but without their mothers they don’t stand much of a chance. 

Enter the International Animal Rescue (IAR), a nonprofit organization devoted to freeing, finding, and caring for endangered and abused animals. IAR recently opened its first-ever “forest schools,” where more than a hundred baby orangutans are studying the fine art of aping. 

In this video from Great Big Story, IAR program director and veterinarian Karmele Llano Sanchez explains the how and why of teaching some of the world’s cutest students. 

[Header image from Great Big Story]