Why Ah Meng Needed Safety Training

Why Ah Meng needed safety training

In case you don’t know who Meng or Ah Meng was- Ah Meng was a fat hairy sweaty….. orang utan.

Ah Meng or Meng was a fat old Sumatran orangutan. Meng was born 18 June 1960 and Meng died on 8 Feb 2008. Meng was a icon for Singapore tourism. Meng was fat and female. Apologies Meng – the truth sometimes hurts. If Meng was human Meng would probably still be fat and would want botox. Anyway why would Meng require safety or safety training?  Lets start from the beginning.

Meng was smuggled from Indonesia and kept illegally as a domestic pet before being recovered by a veterinarian in 1971. Meng was then eleven years old and was given a home at the Singapore Zoo. Ah Meng was very boring, maybe even quite square when at home. Imagine an animal surrounded by square walls. Eating 3 square meals a day. When in the wild they probably never encountered any rectangle or square.

Slowly Ah Meng was the head of her small clan, which lives in a large enclosure with about twenty other orangutans. Maybe because other orangutans thought Meng was fat and had a fake laugh or fake smile so they just let Meng lead. Meng had five children and became a grandmother in 1990. Maybe Meng could only do that when she was a orangutan. May not work out in real life.

Meng was the poster girl of the Singapore Zoo. Pictures of her have been used in Singapore's tourism advertisements worldwide. She has also been featured in over 30 travel films and more than 300 articles. Some of the foreign dignitaries and celebrities that visited Ah Meng included Prince Philip and Michael Jackson. The PR consultancy that sold the idea of Ah Meng without the four square walls or cages was brilliant.

Meng was more approachable by humans than other primates in her clan. Due to her interactive nature, she was the first to host the zoo's 'Breakfast With Ah Meng' programme, whereby visitors would eat their morning meal and then have a photograph taken with the orangutan. By allowing visitors to interact closely with Ah Meng and other orangutans, the Singapore Zoo aims to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the orangutan's natural habitat as well as of other environmental issues.

In 1992, the Singapore Tourism Promotion Board conferred Ah Meng a "Special Tourism Ambassador" award in recognition of her contribution to tourism in Singapore. She was the first non-human recipient of the award. She received a certificate and a stack of bananas.

Ah Meng was specially featured in the Singapore Guide book of 1988, The Singapore Treasury by Andreas and Carola Augustin.

As she aged, her public appearances became less frequent for fear of subjecting her to stress.

In March 1982, during the shooting of a promotional video at MacRitchie Reservoir, Ah Meng climbed a tree and stayed there for two nights. On her way down, she fell seven stories and broke her right arm. If Meng was safety trained- maybe Meng would not have fallen down.

In March 1992, Ah Meng attacked a French female research student who was studying orang utan behaviour and spent much time with Ah Meng's long-time keeper, Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, out of jealousy. Yes Ah Meng is a jealous type. Maybe Meng isn’t too happy with others success or that others do better than Meng.

Ah Meng died on 8 February 2008 due to old age. She was 47 years old, or 95 orangutan years.

Why did Meng require safety training. Well then Meng would not have been caught by the poachers or Meng would not have fallen down or Meng would not have attached someone.

See don’t learn from a monkey like Ah Meng. Don’t pick up safety training from Ah Meng, obviously Ah Meng isn’t or wasn’t too smart. Don’t learn or get accreditation from Ah Meng because well- you cant deal with a fat monkey.

Rest in peace Ah Meng.


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