It's a preschool. For baby orangutans. The cuteness overload would be story enough, but this school is saving lives.
The just-opened preschool, started by the International Animal Rescue (IAR), has six students: Jemmi, Limpang, Seponti, Jecka, Asoka and newest classmate Gito, who was recently rescued from a tragic situation where he was dumped in a cardboard box and left in the sun to die.
The organization started the preschool due to the recent rescue of so many young orangutan orphans. At an orangutan rehabilitation center in Ketapang, West Borneo, there are stages that the rescued orangutans go through to prepare them for release into the wild: baby school, forest school, forest school 2 on an artificially-created island and a pre-release island before finally returning to the forest.
IAR found the preschool was needed for the tiniest orangutans.
"Preschool is a much softer introduction to the forest where the tiny babies can visit the forest daily to practice their skills without being intimidated by the bigger, more boisterous babies, who can be slightly over enthusiastic and confident at times for the smaller ones," the IAR wrote on its website. "All of the babies in preschool are around the same age and confidence level so that they can learn from one another in their own time without feeling overwhelmed. It is a confidence building environment and the babies rest in the middle of the day so as not to over tire or stress them."
Lisa Key, an IAR spokesperson, said that Jemmi, for example, was originally in baby school but struggled to cope. Now, in preschool, he is thriving.
"These babies have all been taken from the wild, most likely after their mothers have been killed, and either been kept or sold as pets," Key told ABC News. "The recent devastating forest fires in Indonesia have made wild orangutans even more vulnerable to being killed, starving or being burnt to death, or being caught by locals when they enter nearby villages in search of food."