It’s not often that a casual conversation leads to finding yourself
in the middle of a jungle surrounded by large, orange primates. But
that’s more or less what happened to Kate Mackenzie, now advertisement
manager of IPC Connect, when she fancied a change from the monkey
business at The Express and went to Sumatra, Indonesia.
’I took 12 months off to go travelling around Asia, Australia and New
Zealand. Before I left, friends had told me about working with
orang-utans in Borneo.
I knew there was a similar sanctuary in Sumatra so I thought I might
check it out.
’When I got to the island, I met a guy in a bar who offered me a job at
the sanctuary rehabilitating orang-utans back into the wild. They were
babies from eight weeks to four months old.
’I would walk two miles into the forest carrying three of them on my
back and teach them how to climb trees and forage for food. The jungle
stretched for around 900 square kilometres with a river running through
it. It was just idyllic - a real break from civilisation.
’The orang-utans were almost like humans - very affectionate and very
loyal. Feeding time was a scream - a real chimps’ tea party. They would
trash everything and pour milk over their heads.
’I eventually left to go diving in Malaysia, but I certainly learned a
lot about orang-utans ... and climbing trees.’