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                                     August 19th 2023
Celebrating International Orangutan Day with our most recent success

OVAID / BOSF Training Workshop

Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, Borneo July 28th - August 5th 2023

After many months of hard work and preparation, in August OVAID delivered an intensive practical workshop at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s Samboja Lestari orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre in East Kalimantan, Borneo.


The Workshop

This workshop involved 11 participants from 5 orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centres within Indonesia and was developed as a result of original discussions between Orangutan Veterinary Aid and veterinary specialist dentist Gerhard Putter, following a very positive smaller dental collaboration in 2022 in Sumatra which revealed the need for further dentistry training.



Participant organisations:

Samboja Lestari (Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, BOSF, East Kalimantan)  caring for 121 Orangutan and 74 Sun bears

Nyaru Menteng (BOSF Central Kalimantan) Caring for 276 Orangutan

Orangutan Foundation International (OFI, Central Kalimantan) caring for 270 Orangutan and 18 Sun bears

Internațional Animal Rescue (IAR,West Kalimantan) Caring for 60 orangutan.

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP, Sumatra) caring for 60 Orangutan.


With participant vets returning to their centres to share newly acquired knowledge and expertise with their peers, these numbers reveal that the teaching from this workshop had the potential to reach at least 25 vets in 5 rescue centres and positively impact the welfare of 787 rescued orangutan and 92 sun bears; 879 animals in total in their care.


Orangutan Veterinary Aid expresses its gratitude to Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK) Kalimantan, Indonesia, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Samboja Lestari rescue and rehabilitation centre, East Kalimantan, Orangutan Conservancy America and LUSH U.K. without the support of whom this workshop would not have been possible.

OVAID facilitated three world experts in their respective fields to deliver a comprehensive and concentrated teaching experience to benefit the welfare of both Orangutan and Sun bears at the centre.


Specialist team:

Gerhard Putter, BVSc MRCVS MANZCVS (Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery) DipEVDC MRCVS, RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Dentistry 

EBVS® European Veterinary Specialist in Veterinary Dentistry

Head of Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dick White Referrals.

Laurent Locquet, Diplomate ECVIM-CA (Cardiology) - Cert. Perfusionist - Hon. Ass. Professor University of Nottingham - GPCert(VC) MRCVS DVM

Aleksandr Semjonov, DVM, PhD. Chief Clinical Officer (CCO), senior veterinary anaesthesiologist and senior lecturer at Estonian University of Life Sciences.


To facilitate the workshop Orangutan Veterinary Aid also donated sets of hand held dental instruments for each participant together with both digital DR dental radiography and air driven dental machines for BOS Foundation, Samboja Lestari. This was achieved with additional funding from the charity and the support of Dick White Referrals U.K., the Lisa Milella Veterinary Dental Fund, Cass Medical New Zealand, iM3, Zoo Dental Services, Virbac U.K. & JAK Marketing Ltd U.K.





Prior to this workshop the veterinary teams in most orangutan rescue centres in Indonesia had been requesting support and because of the lack of both equipment and skill sets, the level of dentistry able to be accomplished by the vet teams was minimal. Cardiology proved to be a subject which most vets were eager to acquire more knowledge on and, as the workshop progressed the usefulness of the multi disciplinary approach used by the three veterinary specialists became obvious with anaesthetic procedures becoming clearer and safer when backed by cardiological data and the dental procedures becoming smoother and safer.




For this workshop animal welfare and ethical considerations were prioritised along with participant safety. Government permissions were obtained at the planning stage and MOU’s signed between Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID) and BOS Foundation and between OVAID and each specialist.

All participants had previously undergone full health checks as per BOSF guidelines and COVID 19 testing was provided on arrival (antigen test) and day 3 (PCR) prior to any contact with orangutan.







The workshop was carefully structured to allow a combination of both intensive practical and academic tuition. Two participants were allocated to assist each specialist each day on rotation so that each participant received one - to one tuition in each of the three disciplines on at least two days during the workshop. In addition students not allocated specific tasks each day received further cardiology guidance as well as being able to observe procedures being undertaken. One afternoon was given to lectures from each of the specialists.


A schedule to examine maximum 10 animals over the workshop duration remained flexible to take into account each patient animal’s welfare and possible extended individual procedures.


A daily briefing was given each morning at which one of the participants was allocated the role of supervisor and oversaw all activities. At this briefing each team of participants described in detail their role as anaesthetists, cardiologists or dentists for the day and explained the schedule, drug dosages, timing of procedures etc.

Following each day’s case(s) a full debriefing session analysed the positives as well as any negatives which needed to be addressed and modified and allowed all participants to engage and ask questions.


Tuition in cardiology commenced with an initial assessment of the participants’ current level of knowledge by Laurent Locquet in order that tuition could be pitched at the correct level. Generally it was found that some knowledge was lacking - sadly a reflection on the lack of tuition given to the subject at veterinary undergraduate level in Indonesia. Constant repetition of basic cardiology facts on a daily basis proved a little testing and stressful for all the workshop candidates but resulted in a definite increase in retention by the end of the week. Sessions included basic anatomy of the heart, cardiac function, physical examination of the heart by auscultation and cardiac ultrasound, electrical conduction in the heart and the theory and interpretation of ECGs.


Anaesthesia included drug therapies and practical and academic tuition in induction and maintenance of anaesthesia and monitoring practices. Students were able to practice intubation and use of gaseous anaesthetics, intravenous infusions and constant rate infusion practices using a syringe driver and how to deal with medical emergencies arising during anaesthesia including cardiac and respiratory failure and hypotension. Participants allocated to this discipline on a daily basis were tasked with decision making for drug choice for induction and maintenance and for undertaking these processes as well as ensuring and observing suitable recovery. New techniques to many included the use of a new drug for routine use and the advantages of intravenous treatments pre intubation and extubation and the use of specific drugs to correct hypotension in certain circumstances. The safe monitoring of anaesthesia and the interpretation of the parameters shown on critical care monitors was given priority and was intensive.

Discussion revealed that the induction protocols for orangutan at the various centres varied widely but the specialist anaesthetist was adamant that all protocols were valid and need not be changed - the most important factor was that whatever the protocol the maintenance and subsequent monitoring of the anticipated lengthy procedures was perhaps the most important feature of achieving a smooth, controlled and safe anaesthetic.

After discussion between the anaesthetist Aleksandr Semjonov and the senior veterinary surgeon at Samboja, Agnes Siriningsih it was decided that the centre’s standard induction protocols would continue to be used whenever possible to maintain the resident vet team’s familiarity and confidence with the routine. In some instances the protocol would be re-assessed and agreed with the resident vet team prior to administration where considered necessary.


Dentistry covered the routine tooth examination / charting, the importance of complying with a routine to avoid oversight, decision making on tooth health, extraction techniques, a discussion on tooth restoration and the practical use of an air driven dental machine. Dental radiography was dealt with in detail as an extremely important tool for identifying underlying problems which may not be grossly evident and correct positioning and the use of bisecting angles for positioning was practised.




The workshop provided vital benefits of direct one - to - one hands-on tuition with participants rotating between the three disciplines and controlling procedures overseen by the veterinary specialists.


An overall analysis of the workshop brought unanimously positive responses. Participants were enthusiastic about the learning opportunity provided and recognised many useful new techniques. In turn, the specialists recognised that there was in fact an urgent need for tuition in each of the disciplines and therefore felt that their expertise had been extremely useful.


Whilst everyone must look at the broader picture when working in conservation we pride ourselves on helping to improve the care and welfare of individual rescued orangutan. Definitely something to celebrate on this International Orangutan Day 🦧

We may be a small sticking plaster on the great wound of human / orangutan conflict but OVAID is nevertheless making  a significant contribution to the conservation of the species.


Training programmes like this are vital in equipping these dedicated young orangutan rescue veterinary teams with the skills they need to improve the welfare of this critically endangered species and we can only do this through the dedication of our supporters.


Thank you.

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