A tricky trio and a surprise couple!
Santamea was born to the initial third pair of gibbons that were released at Angkor. Her parents, Boeung and Banteay were caught by poachers from the wild, and were raised as pets. Luckily, they were saved from this unnatural life by Wildlife Alliance. They were brought to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre and Zoo where they later gave birth to Santamea. There, they regained their wild instincts, and in January 2018, all three gibbons were released at Angkor.
While the family adapted to living within Angkor Protected Forest, their upbringing as pets meant that the trio had little fear of humans. They started becoming aggressive towards the keepers, with the female attacking a keeper at feeding time. This prompted the tough but necessary decision to recapture the family just days after their release. Boeung, Banteay and baby Santamea returned to Phnom Tamao.
But for Santamea, that wasn’t the end of the story. She and captive born male, Bakheng got another chance at life in the wild! In December 2018, the pair were transferred from Phnom Tamao to a prerelease enclosure in the Angkor Protected Forest on the 16th December to acclimatise before release. However, Santamea picked up a few habits from her parents, with keepers observing similar aggressive behaviour. Sadly, she also didn’t appear strongly bonded to Bakheng as preferred for a release couple.
Luckily, a natural solution appeared when Ping-Peeung, the first female born at Angkor, was captured from the villager’s roof! On that same eventful Christmas Day, Ping-Peeung took Santamea’s place in the Forest. Santamea was returned once again to Phnom Tamao, and has settled into an enclosure under the expert care of the keepers there.
While Santamea’s chance in the wild didn’t work out, it did allow for a new relationship to flourish! Angkor’s new pair, Ping-Peeung and Bakheng have formed a very strong bond over the past three months, a very promising sign for their future release! Watch this space! Hopefully Ping-Peeung can teach him a thing or two about wild life in Angkor Protected Forest!
What about the other Gibbons released at Angkor?
On 30th June 2015, Angkor’s second Pileated gibbon pair, Bayon and Tevy were released. Read more about their release in our blog here. First pair, Baray and Saranik were a hard act to follow: they have so far produced three babies at Angkor! But despite their 18 month headstart, Bayon and Tevy have caught up, producing three babies of their own! The youngest, Dun-kow, was born on the 31st August 2020. Since the newest arrival, the family has shown similar behaviours to Baray and Saranik, with daddy Bayon pushing their 4 year old Ap-ping away at meal times. For the moment, an additional feeding platform has helped to reduce tension.
On the 1st of July 2020, the forth pair, Borei and Pompoy were released at Angkor. They are both doing really well so far, adapting to the new forest environment, whilst hanging nearby the release site and feeding station. Read more about their release in our blog post here.
What about other animals released at Angkor?
In November 2019, a family of three smooth-coated otters were released at Angkor. Today, this striking otter species are globally vulnerable, but back in the day, they would likely have been regulars in Cambodia, especially in Angkor’s productive waterways.