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Welcoming A (Not So) Tiny Girl Into This World

“I hope it’s going to be tonight, or tomorrow night.”

That’s what I kept on telling people whenever they asked when Ratu, the pregnant Sumatran rhino, would give birth. Based on calculation from Ratu’s gestation period of Andatu (Ratu’s first calf), she was due last week but there was still no obvious sign of when she would deliver the calf, so all we could do was to wait and see, apart from ultrasound-ing her every few days.

We didn’t sleep well in the last week, worried that Ratu would give birth any night and I had spent some nights going to bed at 2 a.m and waking up at 6.30 a.m only to monitor her condition. However, last week I had a hunch that she would give birth later that night so I took a nap. It was also an educated guess because she showed some behavioral change. So I took a two-hour nap hoping to see a Sumatran rhino calf that night, but unfortunately the pregnant mother changed her mind and wanted to keep her baby inside for a little bit more. That night, I couldn’t sleep and stayed awake watching a rhino sleep soundly through the night. Tricky girl!

Days went by, she was getting more and more restless, and so were we! We were hoping every single day that the calf would be born that night. I communicated with her and did a couple of BodyTalk sessions, only to find out that she did not feel safe with bright lights surrounding her forested enclosure (there were a couple of floodlights installed). I tried to address this issue but some of the staff insisted that the lights were needed. A couple of BodyTalk sessions really calmed her down though, and addressed some of her stress resulted from human’s fear.

Then yesterday, I got another hunch. This one was merely a hunch and there was no educated guess. I successfully took a three-hour nap yesterday afternoon (a piece of cake if you haven’t had enough sleep in the last 6 days) and thought if Ratu was not going to give birth that night or the following morning, I’d spend another sleepless night watching her sleeping and wallowing in the mud – the last thing I wanted to do that night. Well, it was around midnight and Ratu seemed to be restless and sleeping less, so I thought that was a good sign … before she slept again and there was no sign of labor (again! She tricked me twice, that girl!). I waited and waited and waited for almost 3 hours, and she was still sleeping. I started feeling frustrated because of the floodlights, I did not know why but I guess that was a mirror of Ratu’s frustration that I felt. At 3 a.m I was getting sleepy and finally decided to give up, but before going to bed I uploaded a silly picture/status on my Instagram, showing how frustrated I am waiting for Ratu’s calf every night.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 17.32.29

Just after the picture was uploaded, Ratu decided to wake up and walked around her enclosure. I decided to wait a little bit more, but she went behind a big tree and stayed there. It was dark (probably the darkest site where she could avoid the floodlights) and I could not see a thing. I was about to give up again when I heard report that her water broke and there were signs of first stage labor! I was so excited and all the sleepiness suddenly evaporated into thin air!

No words can describe how precious the moments are. From the moment when the calf’s hind legs emerged (it was posterior longitudinal presentation, video here), followed by her small body and head covered in hair, to the moment she started to stand up, fell, stood up again, until finally made her first few steps in this world!! Nature is incredibly amazing, especially when we see an animal birth, they just knew what to do from the very second they are born into this world, without being told or taught by anyone of what they should do. They just knew instinctively. Ratu did not touch her calf for the first couple of hours, and I guessed it was to encourage the calf to stand up and walk towards her to suckle. If she had approached the calf, the calf would not have tried to stand up and walk while it was vital for the calf to use her muscles immediately.

photo-2-ratucalf-resting_sbelcher_watermarked-medium-res

Within less than an hour, the calf really did her best at standing up on her four feet for the first time. It took her less than an an hour and a half to start taking small baby steps, and within 3 hours after birth she had already started suckling. It was funny to see her sniffing Ratu’s belly randomly searching for the teats, not sure where to locate them.

Kudos to the new vet team at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary! Read more about the birth on IRF’s official press release here.

adinda suckle

So adorable.

So amazing.

So priceless.

Thank you Mother Earth. I hope we, the minority of humans, can continue to preserve the nature while the majority of us are destroying it, even though we are all guilty for that.

PS. I haven’t slept all night as I’m typing this post. Forgive me for a boring-and-not-so-lively story and awful grammar, but I do hope you enjoy the story 🙂

rhino calf wefie copy

The first wefie! I don’t want to disturb the 3 hours old calf so in this case a CCTV wefie works fine as well 🙂

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Three creatures, two species, one love

The story of Hug (means love, because he’s very lovely), a 2 year-old rhesus macaque (Macaca mulata)
Nobody knows how he ended up at a villager’s house. Nobody knows what exactly happened to his mom. Nobody knows why his head was shaved bald. He was tied and kept as a pet in one remote village of Laos. He was rescued by a kind lady named Claudia who spotted him and came back to rescue him. She spent one night in a local boat, crossing the country border to travel to the village again. Her next night was spent in an overnight bus to travel from the village to our rescue center. Moreover, she traded her camera to save this baby monkey. The cost of camera and 48 hours journey to save this little creature were only the beginning. Read more about her rescue here.

Hug's first few days at our rescue center.

Hug’s first few days at our rescue center.

The story of Faloo, an 8 month-old rhesus macaque (Macaca mulata)
He was found in a local market. The seller said his mother had been killed by hunters. A couple decided to save him by buying him. Maybe they wanted to keep him as their pet but later found out that he’s quite aggressive and not as cuddly as he looks. Maybe they simply want to save him and immediately donated him to our rescue center after buying. Whatever their plan was, Faloo ended up at our rescue center. This story is not new. What he has experienced is no surprise. Most of the animals who ends up at black market have the same history. Probably Hug’s history is similar.

Faloo when he arrived at our rescue center.

Faloo when he arrived at our rescue center.

The story of Dam (means black, because she has a dark colored face), a gentle loving Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis)
To be honest there’s nothing much to tell about Dam. She was already there when I first came. Nobody knows for sure where she came from. Nobody knows what happened to her before she came to the former zoo. As usual, Dam seems to be ignorant. She didn’t care when Faloo was introduced into her group. She looked at him, but didn’t approach him unlike other macaques. To the contrary, Hug was very curious and wanted to befriend Faloo right away. He followed him, grabbed him, chased him, basically he did anything he could do to know more about his new friend. Faloo, on the other side, was scared of Hug’s rather aggressive approach. Dam has been a substitute mother for Hug for a while. Because of this bond, I expected her to treat Hug as her own baby and Faloo as a stranger. Guess what, I was definitely wrong. Whenever Faloo felt threatened by Hug, Dam ‘scolded’ Hug instead of Faloo. She didn’t know Faloo before, she didn’t even approach him when he came, but her maternal instinct tells her all baby should be protected. She knows anyone shouldn’t bully Faloo, not even Hug, ‘her own baby’.

Dam, the substitute mom and Faloo, the most recent rescued macaque.

Hug and Faloo are inseparable like brothers now. They go together everywhere.

Hug and Faloo are inseparable like brothers now. They always go together everywhere.

That’s a story about 3 monkeys with unknown past, met at our rescue center and created a new family by their own. Animal bond is beautiful. They teach us true and unconditional love, regardless of EVERYTHING. Yet, they are often considered as nothing more than ‘just an animal’. And we, human, think ourselves are superior while some us can’t even show compassion toward other humans.

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If You’re a Smart Traveler You Won’t Fall For This Tourist Trap

If you travel to Asia, chance is you’ll see cute animals, mostly baby animals, dressed in cute clothing with cute accessories and available for photos. Nobody denies that baby animals are so cute and adorable. Everyone would love to have their pictures taken with them and upload it to social media. Touching their tiny fluffy body is so hard to resist!

Slow loris is one of the exploited wildlife used as photo prop.

Slow loris is one of the most exploited wildlife used as photo prop.

But who knows a single photo capture equals to miserable life for them? Want to know why? Let’s read more.

The easiest way to catch a baby is to kill its mother.

Most animals used as photo props are babies which are cute and photogenic. Where do the babies come from? If they tell you the animals are domestically bred, it’s likely a lie. Even though it were true, separating young babies from the mothers are distressing for both sides. Wildlife are prone to stress in captivity (except they have spacious enclosure and gets plenty of natural diet every day, which, in this case, is unlikely) and they can’t easily breed in a stressful condition. Most of the animals obtained for photo props are taken from the wild by killing their mothers. Once the animal grows, they are not as cute anymore and not so easy to handle anymore. Then what happens when they are adult? They probably kill the adult animals, or give them to a small zoo, or leave them in tiny dirty cages with minimum amount of food to keep them barely alive.

Source: careforthewild.com

Source: careforthewild.com

In order to entertain the tourists without hurting them, the animals used for photo props have gone through horrific and abusive process to tame them.

In addition to experiencing animal abuse, most of the times those animals have their weapons (read: body parts) removed. All animals have their special weapons and defense mechanisms. Lorises have poisonous bite. In order to avoid hurting the tourists, their teeth have to be removed, but removing a loris’ teeth takes a lot of effort and money for the drugs. The easiest way to prevent them from biting you is to clip their teeth, which cause the tooth root exposed to bacteria and leads to tooth root abscess.

For more aggressive animals, like tigers, lions, or bears, sedative drug is usually used to behave them, but it doesn’t prevent them from attacking tourist. Dangerous animals also have their claws removed so they won’t hurt the tourists, their gold mine. Imagine if a tourist gets hurt and spread the news, they won’t be able to earn money anymore.

Elephants are physically abused by sharp metal in order to control them. Baby elephants are not given enough food so they are starved and beg tourists for food. Never buy any food from their owners.

Enough about the animal’s life. Now let’s talk about your life. When you handle the animals, has it ever crossed your mind that wildlife can bring zoonotic disease and spread it to human? You never know what bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungi the animal is carrying. When you touch it, you get the microorganism, but you don’t wash your hand because you thought the animals were healthy. Congratulations, now you can infect anyone including yourself.

If you’re a foreigner/westerner, it’s not an excuse for you to take pictures with this exotic pet just because you don’t have it back at home. This kind of attitude is what exactly started wildlife exploitation in Asia.

Usually locals are not so interested with animals they can see every day and they do not want to pay high amount of money to do it. On the contrary, foreigners are willing to pay big sum of money to get this so called ‘once in a lifetime experience’. If you take your picture posing with animal and upload it, you are encouraging more people to do the same. More and more people are coming to do this wildlife exploitation tourist trap. More and more animals will be caught from the wild and treated badly by the owners.

Now you know the truth. Think twice before you take pictures with them and don’t contribute any money for them. Please be a smart traveler, unlike this embarassing Instagram user. First of all, it’s not a lemur. Second, they can’t suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed.

First of all, it's not a lemur. Second, they can't suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed. Source: instagram.com

First of all, it’s not a lemur. Second, they can’t suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed. Source: instagram.com

Similar articles:

http://inthistogetherblog.com/animal-prop-photos-and-the-wildlife-trade/

https://ecologyliz.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/the-exotic-pet-trade/

http://www.care2.com/causes/why-wild-animals-should-not-be-props-for-your-travel-photos.html

http://right-tourism.com/issues/animals-attractions/photo-prop-animals/

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6 Adorable Mammals with Unbelievably Ugly Babies

“All creatures are cute when they are babies, but it changes as they grow up, including you.”

That’s a very common reply from my dad every time I say (or scream) “Look at that baby animal! Sooo cute!” Well.. Let’s omit the “including you” from the quote and stick to the topic, shall we? Is it true that all babies are cute?Though most animals give birth to cute babies and turn ugly when they grow up, there are some complete opposite: these animals are born ugly but turn cute as they enter adulthood. They are unbelievably ugly that actually make them cute.

1. Baby Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Who may think this 120 kg black and white animals used to be a 100 grams pink creature when they were born?

Newborn panda cubs. Source: worthashare.com

cute baby panda

Slowly shows its cuteness. Source: galleryhip.com

A full grown giant panda. Source: wikimedia.com

A full grown giant panda. Source: wikimedia.com

2. Baby wombat (Vombatidae)

Wombat is a native Australian wildlife. It’s one of my favorite animals when I was a kid. Why? Because they look so cute (with fur!) until recently I saw an ugly baby wombat picture. The baby in this picture is Leah now a famous web celebrity after being a subject of Reddit photoshop battle.

Leah the rescued baby wombat. Source: news.com.au

Leah the rescued baby wombat. Source: news.com.au

A full grown wombat. Source: altinawildlife.com

A full grown wombat. Source: altinawildlife.com

3. Baby stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides)

All baby stump-tailed macaque is born with white hair and pink face, with a lot of wrinkles like an old human! Like my co-worker said “I can’t imagine what I would do if I gave birth to such an ugly baby. Maybe I’d scream and throw it away immediately.”

Wrinkly baby like Gollum in LOTR.

Wrinkly baby like Gollum in LOTR.

Mother and baby stump-tailed macaque. Don't you think the mom is cuter?

Mother and baby stump-tailed macaque. Don’t you think the mom is cuter?

4. Baby echidna (Tachyglossidae)

This unique animal, together with platypus, are the only egg-laying mammals still exist today. Adult echidna resembles a hedgehog with long pointy nose, even though their babies look very much different from that definition. baby echidna

An adult echidna. Source: Newscom.

An adult echidna. Source: Newscom.

5. Baby aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

Believe or not, I can read your mind and the answer to your question is: yep, this is real. It’s not a fictional character from a horror movie. Even though I hope no reader gets any nightmare tonight.

Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

An adult aye aye. They're cute, aye? Source: denverzoo.org

An adult aye aye. They’re cute, aye? Source: denverzoo.org

And last but not least… My favorite baby ever!

6. Baby Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)

Weighing ‘only’ 25-30 kg when they were born, Sumatran rhino calves have disproportionate head-body-leg ratio. Worse, their big head is horn-less. Who would think it’s a rhino when they don’t even have horns? As a reward for reading this article to end here’s a bonus of dad-son ugliness combination for you. To see how they look like now, don’t forget to befriend Andalas and Andatu on Facebook.

Baby Andalas

Baby Andalas when he was born in 2001.

Andalas has a son named Andatu, which was born in 2012. Watch Andatu’s video below.

Which one is the ugliest or the cutest, do you think? If you have other nominees for the list please let us know by commenting below.