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Monkey World News

Right, no more monkey business! Weighing in at 15st, Britain's fattest orang-utan is put on a diet

Wednesday 8th September 2010

Before you ask, no, Oshine the orang-utan is not happy about her new diet.

After all, when you’re used to burgers, jelly and sweets, a plate piled high with salad is bound to be a bit of a disappointment.

Weighing in at a hefty 15 and a half stone, tubby Oshine gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Great Ape.

But now, Britain's fattest primate is changing her ways.

Cutting back on the calories: Oshine was kept as a pet in Africa
for 13 years before being rescued. Since arriving at rescue centre
in Dorset her weight has rocketed and keepers have now put her on a strict diet

After being rescued from the care of a couple of well-meaning but misguided, owners, Oshine is being put on a strict diet of fruit, yoghurt, lean meat and vegetables.

Keepers at Monkey World in Dorset hope the 13-year-old will be back to normal size within a few months and ready to try for her first baby.

Time to get moving: The orangutan is now receiving
a more natural, healthy diet and meeting others of her
own kind for the first time

Oshine arrived at the rescue centre from South Africa where she was kept as a pet since she was a baby.

Her sedentary and unnatural lifestyle meant her weight rocketed. A wild, healthy orangutan would normally weigh between five and 12. stone.

Dr Alison Cronin, director of Monkey World, said: 'As she grew older, her owners found they could only keep her calm by constantly feeding her. They meant well, but it was misguided care.'

The owners contacted Monkey World two years ago when they realised they could not offer Oshine a healthy lifestyle as a pet.

She flew the ten and a half hours to Heathrow on August 31 in a specially designed cage and was immediately placed on a diet.

'We have been working to give Oshine a more natural life with others of her own kind for more than a year,' said Dr Cronin.

'The long-haul journey for such a delicate endangered species such as an orangutan is fraught with difficulties and danger.

'With Oshine’s weight problem we were especially concerned about her travel arrangements and making sure that the journey was stress-free and safe.'

Although a fully-grown adult, Oshine is now living in the orangutan creche at Monkey World. She will live alongside four captive born babies born in European zoos who have been abandoned by their mothers.

The Monkey World team say living alongside babies will teach Oshine 'how to be an orangutan'.

Once she loses weight, gets fitter, and understands more about ape behaviour, she will 'graduate' into one of two breeding groups where it is hoped that she can start her own family.

Oshine arrived at the rescue centre from South Africa
where she was kept as a pet since she was a baby

'Now that she is at the park, we have her on a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits and she is getting a lot more exercise climbing through the specially designed, two storey orangutan creche,' said Dr Cronin.

'It will take a few months for Oshine to reach a more appropriate weight and then she will be ready to meet a new man and consider a family of her own.'

Monkey World is home to Europe’s only orangutan creche and has 14 orangutans. It not only breeds the apes but offers a home to any babies born in European zoos that are orphaned.



As a pet, Oshine ate bread, burgers, chips, crisps, marshmallows, jelly, gummy bears and cereals around the clock.

Now she has only two meals a day, each containing fruit such as plums, apples and grapes, vegetables such as cucumber and beetroot and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

She has chicken or eggs, twice a week and snacks daily on sunflower seeds.

In the wild, orang-utans spend a third of their day foraging for food.  Around two thirds of their diet is fruit.  They also eat flowers, bark, honey and mineral-rich soil as well as birds' eggs, insects and frogs.

In the creche orphaned babies are cared for by a team of dedicated primate care staff and an adult female orangutan, A-mei.

A-mei is surrogate mother to the young orphaned orangutans, Dinda, aged four, Hsiao-Ning, seven, and Joly and Lingga, both five.

In the wild, orangutan are threatened by the destruction of forests for farmland for food and palm oil - used in processed foods in West.

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