The orang utan mother with a baby clinging onto her (left) grabs the rope bridge as soon as it was thrown towards her.
The orang utan mother with a baby clinging onto her (left) grabs the rope bridge as soon as it was thrown towards her.

KOTA KINABALU: The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has captured rare images of an orang utan swimming to safety with a baby on her back.

The mother swims while holding onto the rope. It made sure the baby’s head was above water while she swam across.
The mother swims while holding onto the rope. It made sure the baby’s head was above water while she swam across.

A WWF field staff recently took the photographs in the Lower Segama area between Sandakan and Lahad Datu.

The orang utan had been stranded on a tree for a week because of floods when the Sabah Wildlife Department sent a team to the area.

They had just set up a rope bridge about four metres to the nearest point of dry ground.

The orang utan, with her baby clinging onto her back, climbed down the tree and grabbed hold of the rope that was thrown to her, said a WWF spokesman.
The orang utan then pulled herself closer toward dry land and swam “like a dog”, the spokesman said.

The mother and baby were fed, and tended for about 30 minutes before being released into the jungle.

It is generally believed that orang utan are non-swimmers because they supposedly fear water.

The pictures proved that if they were desperate enough, they could actually swim.

The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park nearby keeps its orang utan in an enclosure surrounded by a moat.

But there is no record of any of the animals swimming across to escape.