Manuel and Yona

 One of the first projects Dr. Alia got to participate in was a translocation of two gibbons: Yona and Manuel from Cikananga Wildlife Center to Kalaweit.

Dr. Alia and the gibbon’s journey started in the late afternoon the day before their scheduled flight. The gibbons were sedated by Dr. Alia with the help of their keepers to safely move them to their transport box and have one last health check before their long journey to come. The translocation team set out late at night in the hopes of avoiding the dreaded Jakarta traffic. Unfortunately at around 2 am they got stuck bumper to bummer in a traffic jam. Luckily they left early enough that that they still arrived on time (4am) at the airport quarantine facility to await the on call airport vet to get the okay for travel. Unfortunately the quarantine vet was late… immediately after the airport vet gave team gibbon the last bit of paperwork we rushed to the cargo hold. There they encountered yet another setback, there was a mix up of the paperwork and the gibbons where not registered to fly on the only airline that transports animals in Indonesia. At this point team gibbon only had 30 minutes until boarding time. In the hopes that the gibbons would make it on board they rushed Dr. Alia to the gate to get on the plane as a passenger. When Dr. Alia arrived they were starting to board, she asked every member of staff she could find if ‘her monkeys’ where on board. She was told by ground staff as well as the pilot, who she snuck into the cockpit to see, that ‘her monkeys’ where safely on the plane. She sat back and relaxed as the flight took off.

When the plane arrived in Sumatra and she turned on her phone, a flurry of texts came in stating that the gibbons did not make it on the plane, and that she had to stay the night near the airport and that they will come the next morning. The gibbons and the rest of team gibbon camped out at a rescue center based in Jakarta for the night. The next morning Dr. Alia finally got reunited with the two gibbons at the cargo hold in Sumatra. The team from Kalaweit rehabilitation center met her at the airport. After a bit of seat rearrangement in the Kalaweit van they were off to the jungles of Sumatra where the gibbons originated from. After a windy road up the mountain and a trip in what can only be described as a retired army truck on a mud ‘road’ they all finally arrived. Dr. Alia and the veterinary team at Kalaweit discussed the history of these two gibbons and they were finally allowed to enter their new jungle rehabilitation enclosure where they would learn how to behave like wild gibbons again and be released into their natural habitat in the future. 

With your help you could help more wildlife like Yona and Manuel become free once again please donate at

Chanee, the baby gibbon

Raising babies is difficult. This task is even more difficult when the baby isnt your own species. This is chanee a baby gibbon. He, as most of the babies we see are, is a victim of the illegal wildlife pet industry. He was confiscated by JAAN from in international trader. Taking care of wildlife babies is tricky. When doing so we need to remember they are not pets and do not enjoy being treated like a domestic animal. caretakers also must take into consideration that every species communicates in a different manner and as humans we have to be careful about inflicting our ways of communication on these easily influenced youngsters. As a wildlife care taker there is a fine line between giving the babies the comfort and security they need to grow into independent, self sufficient, individuals and being a doting mother figure for them. Looking at that cute helpless face its difficult to not humanize him but we try our best to keep him wild so that one day he will be able to be released into the wild and fit in with others of his kind in their natural environment. Remember #wildanimalsarenotpets. as a caretaker for this little nightmare i dont understand why anyone who enjoys keeping their hair attached to their head would ever consider wanting a primate as a pet.

Baby siamang and leaf monkey

It was late at night when three baby primates showed up at Cikananga rescue center. Dr. Alia and her team had been told that an illegal online trader had been caught earlier that day and that two baby siamang and one baby leaf monkey would arrive later that night. Dr. Alia and her team anxiously awaited the new babies. It wasn’t until 2am that they showed up very scared and in poor condition. They were obviously malnourished and dehydrated from their life with the trader. No one knows how long they were with the trader or what he was feeding them, but the pictured the JAAN (Jakarta Animal Aid Network) along with the police took of their living conditions was frightful. Once they arrived each one got a health check. One siamang (later called ‘Ballsy’) was slightly older and was able to eat solid food, the younger siamang (later called ‘Fugly’) was in the weaning period where proper nutrition is vital. The little leaf monkey (later called ‘Ubi’) was in the worst condition in addition of being dramatically malnourished and dehydrated like the other two, she also has an injured jaw and arm, making it difficult for her to swing and eat. Though a very long process and many sleepless nights for Dr. Alia, The two siamong where easily transitioned from milk to solid foods, and although it was touch and go with Ubi for a while her jaw and arm healed and she was transitioned to solid foods. Weaning a leaf monkey in captivity is extremely difficult and included making leaf smoothies as well as a very unhappy violet wild baby leaf monkey who needed baths once in a while. They are all now healthy and happy awaiting translocation to their islands of origin.  Pictures: arrival day, health check, don’t let that cute face fool you they are still wild animals, trying to avoid eye contact while bottle feeding is important to avoid humanization so they have hope of release in the future. With your kind donations you could help VITW buy medicines, and milk formula for babies just like Fugly, Ballsy, and Ubi, as well as proved around the clock care for babies like them.

BEES, Elephant sanctuary

Elephant health check and injections at BEES in Thailand, in November 2015

BEES – Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary is a home for old, injured and retired elephants needing rest and/or permenant care. Elephants get a chance to live free and to just be elephants.

The sanctuary provide an alternative for elephants and their owners to move away from the busy city life and hardships of trekking by providing a retirement home for elephants and a place were elephants can live free and have a good rest in a natural environment.

This organization works to raise awareness and to join many others in the hope to bring an end to the suffering and exploitation of the elephants. There are over 4,000 registered captive elephants in Thailand that suffer everyday in the tourism industry being used for entertainment and trekking. Little do the tourists know that the $$$ are funding the continued exploitation and ultimately the suffering of these beautiful and majestic creatures.

Located just 2.5hrs drive South-West of Chiang Mai, amongst beautiful mountain scenery and lush countryside, BEES is a local family and community based project. Situated in a valley in Maechaem, we have  breath taking views of Doi Inthanon the highest mountain in Thailand.

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One of our Tomistomas (False gnarl) crocodiles was found early one Sunday morning with a partially amputated upper jaw.

Our vet received a call over the walky-talky and immediately ran down to their estuary to take a closer look. To her surprise, the top jaw was hanging off by just a small piece of bone and some soft tissue. The vet then consulted a crocodile expert to discuss the welfare implications of missing most of an upper jaw. A few cases similar to this were seen before, although they were always complete self amputations, and the crocodiles were still able to eat and exhibit normal behavior in a captive environment.  

Surgery was then planned for the next day.  As sedation can be very dangerous for croc field surgery, all the keepers were involved in restraining the croc. To everyone's surprise, throughout surgery the croc did not put up a fight and did not show obvious signs of pain. The remaining soft tissue was cut away and the dead tissue removed, ligation of blood vessels was carried out as necessary, the last piece of bone was cut through, and stitches were placed where possible.

We are pleased to say the crocodile is currently doing very well. He is eating adequately, and although he has to keep his head above water because of a lack of nostrils, this doesn't seem to negatively affect his behavior.

Please feel free to contact us for further information about this case

Bear nutrition

We work with bear specialists and our nutritionist Dr. Francis Cabana to formulate to make a perfect diet for our little bear Ben-ben. He was confiscated at the same time as the baby gibbons and was severely malnourished when he arrived. Sometimes the best medicine is prevention and a nutritious diet is a large part of preventative medicine.  He his now growing large, reduced his stereotype behaviour, and after being treated for skin problems initiated by his poor diet and obsessive licking disorder he is now happy and healthy.

Dennis, the baby orang outan

Animal Cares