Orangutan Island is a documentary television series, in the style of the hugely successful series Meerkat Manor, that blends more traditional documentary filming with dramatic narration. The series was produced by NHNZ with creator Judith Curran also acting as the series producter. Animal Planet's Martha Ripp is the executive producer of the series, and Lone Dröscher Nielsen, the founder and manager of the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project, regularly appears with the orangutans in the show. The series premiered on Animal Planet on November 2, 2007 with new episodes airing Friday nights.
The show focuses on a group of orphaned orangutans at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Center that are raised to go against their normal nature to form a society and live together in a cooperative society so they can be left to live wild on their protected island.
- Alibaba, a resourceful orangutan who manages to find food in the water. After studying the Teknisi and learning that they use water bottles as fish traps, Alibaba has become adept at raiding the traps to take the fish for himself.
- The Bandit Boys, a group of five and six-year-old males that formed in baby school. Known for being mischief makers, the group likes to engage in food fights and wrestling matches.
- Donald, "The Apprentice," is a six-year-old male who came to Nyaru Menteng with Daisy. Though they were close in forest school, Donald became the sidekick of the larger Chen Chen, enabling him to live a mostly worried free life. During the series, he falls victim to an unknown illness, but he is able to recover.
- Mercury is one of the victims of the mysterious illness.
- Milo is the one who caused Bonita's retreat to the comforting Papau.
- Rocky fought with Milo for dominance when Hamlet left.
- Saturnus is the island's smallest male who is constantly seeking attention and discovering ways to turn anything into a toy. His love of pranks earns him the nickname of "Clown."
- Togar was one of the original bandit boys, but after falling victim to the strange illness that struck the island, his role in the society was shaken. When he returns to the island, he is hesitant and fearful, but eventually finds his place again.
- Bertha, the island's biggest female, who catches the eye of Saturnus, the island's smallest male.
- Bonita is a five-and-a-half year old female who tends to be independent and something of a loner. When the Bandit Boys bully her she quickly loses her confidence and will run away crying. Bonita's mother was killed by poachers wanting to sell Bonita as a pet, but she was rescued and taken to the Nyaru where she entered baby school.
- Cha Cha is a six-year-old female who first came to the Nyaru Menteng Rescue Center when she was 18 months old. She viewed Lone Droscher Nielsen as her surrogate mother and was initially devastated at being separated from her. Her refusal to adapt to the island causes Nielsen to question whether Cha Cha can be an independent orangutan, however Cha Cha soon bonds with the more boisterous Daisy and comes to accept her new home.
- Chen Chen is an eight-year-old male who is missing his left eye due to an accidental injury sustained while playing. Although Chen Chen is one of the largest and most dominant males on Orangutan Island, newcomer Hamlet has become to challenge his alpha position. However, in episode six, he and Hamlet cooperate in raiding a boat.
- Compost is a six-year-old female who came to Nyaru Menteng on August 29, 2003 while still primarily wild. She lost one of her ears after receiving an electrical shock. Compost, who is named after famed wildlife photographer Alain Compost, is nicknamed "The Photographer."
- Daisy is a feisty and determined six-year-old female who takes no prisoners. Daisy came to Forest School with Donald. When Donald started bonding with Chen Chen, Daisy became something of a tom boy, and can hold her own in an altercation. Brave, determined, and sometimes rebellious, Daisy is the one of the island's best foragers. Showing she can also be gentle, Daisy befriended the less-confident Cha Cha.
- Hamlet, called the "Intruder", is a 10-year-old male who escaped from the nearby Palas 1 Island to make his home on Orangutan Island. In his first appearance on the show, he kidnaps Jasmine. However, despite this rude introduction, his five-years of experience in the wild enables him to help the less experienced newcomers survive their first rainy season. Towards the end of season 1, Hamlet is deposed by Reno, and then builds a relationship with Papau. Eventually Hamlet regains his title once more.
- Jasmine is a darker colored six year old female who is popular with the young males on the island, earning her the nickname of "Femme Fatale". Although she is confident and self sufficient, she rarely gets time away from her admirers.
- Jordan is six-year-old who came to Nyaru Menteng rescued from an illegal stage show where he was trained to box other orangutans. Having been stolen from his mother while still a baby, he has little experience interacting with other orangutans and enters the island at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Jordan once attacked alpha male Hamlet with a bottle, but Hamlet seemed to be understanding and didn't punish him severely. Due to a deviated septum, Jordan has a constantly running nose. In episode four, he attempted to drink the engine oil out of a bottle he had found, which would have killed him, but the Teknisi spotted him.
- Jupiter is a female who takes a liking to water. She discovers a new food source, fish.
- Kacio is a six-year-old female who shows that Chen Chen has a soft side by playing with him on the platform in episode 3. She is also a friend of Yeyen and Nadi.
- Mogok is a brave young male who challenges the much larger invader Chakra by stealing back the group's bananas. Earlier on in the season, Mogok went missing, prompting a Lone and the Teknisi to form a search party. Mogok is eventually found on the opposite side of the 100 acre island six days later looking perfectly healthy. His six-day survival was a good sign for his fellow orangutans.
- Nadi was found in a small cage outside of a house suffering from severe malnourishment. Nadi hates boat rides after having been transported to Nyaru Menteng in a boat, and has to be sedated during the boat trip to Palas 2. Hypervigilant, she is quick to sound the alarm at the first sign of potential danger. After a scuffle with Daisy, Nadi was bitten by a pit viper, but recovered with the help of Nielsen.
- Oyoy , was an independent and very savvy orphan, but he fell from a tree and drowned in the third episode.
- Papau, is the oldest female on the island at the age of nine, and known for her matronly manner. She often cares for the shyer Bonita. Towards the end of season 1, she forms a bond with Hamlet.
- Reno is a six-year-old male who uses Hamlet's absence to challenge Chen Chen's dominance.
- Yeyen is the mate of Chen Chen and is known for her ability to walk upright in water.
- JJ is a six-year-old male and was the first to receive the shared jackfruit; also, he was the first to inspect the tree platform.
- Aran a six-year-old male that slept with Burata in a tree nest.
- Burata is a seven-year-old male who shared a treetop nest with Aran.
- Roy is a male who slept lazily when the island was drying out.
Anne Russon, a psychologist who has conducted extensive research in primate intelligence is acting as a scientific adviser for the series. Lone Dröscher-Nielsen is the founder and project manager of the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue and Reintroduction Center and regularly appears in the show interacting with and caring for the orangutan orphans.
Season 1: 2007-2008
Discover Communications has partnered with Activision
to make a video game based on Orangutan Island
as part of their new series of nature-based games that tie to Animal Planet shows. The game will be released on multiple platforms with a projected release in late 2008.
General - basic episode information