Former chain-smoking orangutan adapts to new home

PETALING JAYA - Shirley the former "chain-smoking" orang utan and her three fellow primates are adapting well to their new life at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kuching.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) corporate communications head Zulkifli Baba Noor said she had not shown any withdrawal symptom since quitting smoking early last month.

He said Shirley and the other three primates Ohm, Sandy and Mario were currently under observation at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kuching to determine their rehabilitation needs.

"We will observe them for a month and note their behaviour and progress. Then, we will place them in an appropriate rehabilitation programme," he said.

Zulkifli added that it would take at least five months before the orang utan could be transferred to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a semi-wild habitat where the primates are allowed to roam freely.

"However, it is very unlikely Shirley can be released after five months as she has been so used to captivity," he said.

Zulkifli added that SFC staff would continue to assess the survival skills of the four primates before deciding if further rehabilitation was need-ed.

Shirley, estimated to be between 20 and 25 years old, had gained notoriety for being a "chain-smoking" orang utan.

She has since successfully kicked the habit after undergoing intensive rehabilitation at Malacca Zoo earlier last month.

Meanwhile, Perhilitan said it had taken legal action against an individual related to a local zoo, who was responsible for holding two of the three young orang utan.

However, it could not take acti- on against the smuggler of the remaining orang utan, allegedly a foreigner, as it had insufficient information.