Baby Orangutan by artists Gillie and Marc

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NAME
Neroli named by Nic Smeede

TITLE
Wild Baby Sumatran Orangutan

GENDER
Female

AGE
3

FOUND
Sumatra and Borneo

CONSERVATION STATUS 
Critically Endangered

Swinging through the trees holding hands with her friends is the three-year-old baby orangutan. She has so much fun doing this but has started to notice something. Her beautiful rainforest with all the exciting and interesting trees and plants are starting to all look like the same tree. It is always noisy, the sound of giant machines mixing with the crashing of falling trees, plus there are humans everywhere. She had always been told to keep away from humans. Many babies like her had been taken away by them. They are dangerous.

The Malay word for “man of the forest”, orangutan, is the name for our orange-haired cousins. Only found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia, these arboreal great apes spend most of their time in trees with incredibly long arms fit for swinging. They are known as “gardeners” of the forest and are vital for seed dispersal. Males and females are sexually dimorphic so they are very easy to tell apart. The males have large cheek pads and a sagittal crest (a ridge of bone running like a mohawk along the skull) to show their dominance over other males.

Baby orangutans are completely dependent on their mothers for the first two years of their lives. They will be carried around on their mother’s belly having constant physical contact for the first 4 months. They will do everything together, travel, eat, and sleep. After this period the two start to spend more and more time apart. The mother will often enlist the help of one of her older children to help her raise her baby and socialise it. Once it is about 1 ½, the baby is quite a good climber and will be able to swing from tree to tree, holding hands with other orangutans in what is called “buddy travel”. But even when they become an adolescent at the age of 6 or 7, the baby will still find time for their mum.

Orangutans are one of the most intelligent non-human primates. They use tools, some even creating a toolkit containing insect-extraction sticks, and seed-extraction sticks, as well as adapting their tool for the task and even saving it for later. They have voluntary control over their vocalisations and one orangutan in the US National Zoo even learnt to whistle! They also show many humans characteristics such as laughter.

All three species of orangutan are listed as critically endangered and are legally protected in both Indonesia and Malaysia. Even so, they are easy targets for hunters being large and slow. The females are the most hunted for bushmeat with their babies being kept as pets, sent off on the illegal pet trade. Habitat loss is perhaps the biggest problem. Their home has been disappearing at a rapid rate to make way for palm oil plantations and other such projects. Over the past decade, it is estimated that orangutan populations have declined by 50% in the wild.  

HOW TO HELP 
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals. 

Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.

​The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.

To help protect these babies you can adopt them and help them via the WWF: > Click here: www.wwf.org.au 

If you are interested in buying Wild About Babies related art, you will also be directly helping real babies in the wild with 30% going to WWF to continue their fantastic work for animals conservation: Click here to browse art https://gillieandmarc.com/collections/wild-about-babies

ABOUT GILLIE AND MARC
Gillie and Marc’s highly coveted public artworks can be found worldwide including in New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, and Sydney. They are Archibald Prize finalists, won the Chianciano Biennale in Italy, took out the Allens People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2018 and Kids’ Choice Award in the 2016 Sculpture by the Sea and received the Bayside Arts Festival People's Choice Award in 2019 in Sydney.

The husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to make art for a better tomorrow. They are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as best friends and soul mates.

Gillie and Marc are also passionate eco-warriors and have dedicated their lives to protecting nature.

Gillie grew up with the wildlife in Zambia and Marc studied chimpanzees in Tanzania as a young man. Over time, the artists developed a deep appreciation for all living things and a desire to preserve the magnificence of the natural world. 

Through their art, Gillie and Marc aim to transform passive audiences into passionate advocates for animal conservation. Their mission is to use their work as a platform to continue spreading awareness about endangerment, which will ultimately lead to change and save species from extinction.

Their art has raised hundreds of thousands in donations for the many wildlife charities and causes they support through their project Love The Last.

Please follow @gillieandmarcart