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KUALA LUMPUR – (AFP) – An obese orangutan has been put on a strict diet by Malaysian wildlife authorities after two decades of gorging on junk food handed out by tourists, a report said Friday.
Jackie reportedly weighs 100 kilograms (16 stone), twice the normal weight of an adult female in the rich jungle habitats of Borneo island.
The 22-year-old ape was relocated more than three months ago by the wildlife department in the state of Sabah — which lies in the northeast of Borneo — because visitors to the Poring forestry park kept feeding her.
Department director Laurentius Ambu was cited in a newspaper report saying that Jackie’s familiarity with her human carers led her to seek out tourists at the park’s visitors’ area.
“I am glad that Jackie is a much happier orangutan now,” Ambu was quoted as saying in The Star.
Officials could not be immediately reached for comment but Ambu was reported as saying Jackie’s weight-loss programme would “take time”.
The primate’s new diet is said to include more leafy vegetables and fruit.
Experts believe that between 50,000 and 60,000 orangutans are left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia.
Orangutans are faced with extinction from poaching and the rapid destruction of their forest habitat, driven largely by palm oil and paper plantations.