New night nursery
The team left for Sepilok on 8th March with two tasks at hand, firstly the commissioning of the stainless steel caging for the nursery and secondly the maintenance of the exercise enclosure which we built exactly one year ago.
Arriving at Sepilok was like “coming home”, everyone was so pleased to see us and it only took a glance at the enclosure to realise the maintenance was not happening one day too early. The corrosive weather conditions in Sabah make it essential for equipment to be regularly protected and with such limited resources Sepilok find this an impossible task. Armed with scrappers, paint and brushes our team set about work to remove the old paint, renew the protection coat and apply the final finish, a task that took the team 5 days.
As usual, when working within the confines of the nursery quarters, we soon attracted attention from the inhabitants of the reserve. One mother took the opportunity of bringing her 6 month old baby along with her whilst she raided the feed room for the ripest bunches of bananas she could lay her hands on. Having made off into the forest clutching a bunch in each hand (and foot) we decided to padlock the door in case she decided to return, which she did of course. When she found the door locked she showed us just how intelligent these beautiful apes are by finding a piece of wood and trying to leaver the lock open. When the wood snapped under the pressure she simply threw it to the ground and went off but was back within minutes, with a piece of metal bar and proceeded to work away at the lock in the same way as we would have done. All the time the youngster, clinging to her back for his life, watched intently. Guess what he will be doing when he gets bigger! The mother applied herself to the task for over an hour before giving up and taking her baby off to make their nest for the night.
Having completed the maintenance of the enclosure it was time to turn our attention to the new stainless steel nursery cages. Mr Chong had agreed a very favourable price for their manufacture and it was decided to have a prototype made for inspection, prior to giving the go ahead for this costly Project. Arrangements were made to visit Mr Chong’s factory on the Sunday evening to inspect the new construction.
When Dr Sen, Sabah’s Chief Vet, and Sue arrived they were shown what resembled a very large silver picture frame and were told the men didn’t work Sunday’s but if she returned the next evening it would be ready. Sue went away feeling doubtful that there would be much improvement in 24 hours. How wrong could she be! The next evening when she returned, sure enough, there was this amazing structure, gleaming in the setting sun. Mr Chong had made sure his boys had worked without a break to get the prototype ready for Sue’s inspection.
Delighted with the new cages, which were at least three times the size of the one currently in use at Sepilok, Sue happily gave the go ahead for the other 18 to be made.
It is proposed that the two nursery wards at Sepilok will be knocked into one, new large windows will be fitted, new electrics and lighting, and finally, if our budget allows, the whole ward will be tiled, prior to installing our new caging.
We are hoping that we will be able to open the new nursery in August when we next visit the Centre.