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The way these baby orangutans are taught to fear snakes is gloriously dramatic

orangutans tiktok orangutans learn to fear snakes


The rescue workers of Borneo Orangutan Survival are going viral for their hands-on teaching approach.

As their adorable pupils learn important lessons at Jungle School, like using tools and building nests, perhaps no bit of wisdom could be quite as important as snakes = danger. So, to really drive it home, the caretakers lean into a bit of theatrics, along with a healthy dose of exposure therapy. And boy, does it work.

To be clear: No real snakes were harmed in the making of these now viral TikToks.


Instead, plastic pythons get placed under branches, mimicking real life. The workers walk with the baby orangutans along the path, and BAM! Fake snake attack!

@bos_deutschland The #orangutans we #rescue need to learn that #snakes are dangerous… this is how #conservation works #animalrescue #wildliferescue #ngo ♬ original sound - BOS_deutschland

A female worker screams, flails her arms and falls to the ground. Clearly this woman has done her research. It is a performance worthy of a horror movie. The snakes might be fake, but that drama is 100% real.

Up the trees the terrified orangutans go. Traumatized? Maybe. But also more aware? Most definitely. The conservation group reassured viewers that, despite their shock, “the little guys are fine and learning.”

Snake awareness is a vital life-saving skill for orangutans, but it isn’t necessarily a natural one. According to the Smithsonian, being able to recognize snakes comes instinctively for orangutans, however fearing them is entirely learned. And without parents to teach these little ones about life threats, the workers of BOS have stepped up in the sweetest way.

And hey, it’s not all trauma, the workers are definitely having nonmalicious fun while pulling antics. In a follow-up video, a worker laughs as she sets down a tricolored fake snake on the ground near some orangutans enjoying a midday lunch.

Once the snake is spotted, the orangutans quickly flee. The ones who don’t immediately climb all huddle behind a tree, comforting each other. Seems the lesson plan is working!

Kudos to the team at BOS, who have used amazing creativity to educate these adorable creatures about important safety habits. And also educate the world about how we can be allies to the natural world.

If you’re in the mood for more Jungle School antics, you can watch even more videos here.

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