It’s Day 12 of the Zero To Hero challenge and I’m linking back to two blogs I have left comments on. Both blogs are related to a topic that is close to my heart and both in their own way make the same link to their subject matter. The eyes of an Orang-utan. This has given me the inspiration to write this post.
On the blog Things You Should Care About I particularly related to what LM wrote in her post Inspiring Moments about a female orang-utan she had been watching who “not only acknowledged I was there, but stared right into my eyes as if she was reading me as much I was trying to read her.”
I’ve had an affinity for Orang-utans since the mid-1980’s when I was at school and given the task of doing a write-up on any animal of my choice. I remember having no idea which animal I would choose. My mind was completely blank. To find my inspiration I went flicking through a zoo guide book. Something had to be in there to inspire me. Page by page I worked my way through animal after animal. Many would be passed over with barely a second glance, but some would invoke thoughts ranging from possibly to maybe, to might be, to could be. I suppose I could quite easily have chosen Koala’s, or maybe Elephants, possibly Penguins, but then my eyes fell upon the Orang-utan. Straight away I was struck by the colour of their hair. Like me they were ginger – although I was, and still am, significantly less hairy – I was immediately on their side. But what sealed the deal was something even closer to me. At the time my father was living and working in Brunei on the island of Borneo. I rarely saw him as a result, so writing and thinking about the Orang-utans gave me a link to him. My connection to orang-utans had begun.
The first time I properly connected with an Orang-utan would be on a visit to Monkey World in Dorset, UK. It may have been the first visit, or possibly the second, I can’t recall but I do remember on one occasion standing near one of their enclosures when one of them came close to the fence. Close enough for me to look him* in the eye. More importantly for me, I was close enough for the Orang to look me in the eye. And that was the connection.
I had heard about ‘making a connection’ before but never truly understood it. Now I did. I have no way of knowing what he was thinking. Watching him he seemed calm, benign, at peace. I hoped he was thinking the same thing about me. I could easily have watched him and the rest of his friends for hours.
With the eyes being the key to that connection, I feel the picture Orang-utan on Alan Jones Art has captured that idea beautifully and it conveys, to me at least, the feeling of the orang-utan looking into you.
It’s always been my dream to take my camera and to travel to Borneo and see these wonderful creatures in their own habitat before it’s too late. Whilst they still have a habitat to live in and before they are driven to extinction. It’s no use saying “to the edge of extinction” as they are already there. An unforgiveable plight caused by our own greed as a species. They are the casualties of a war that is not even being fought. I hope something can be done to save them.
*or her. Again I can’t recall. For ease and consistency I’m saying him.