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Student goes ape to help save orangutans

Joshua Nicolaou's life was changed two years ago when an affectionate orangutan ran into his arms at a Bali safari park and refused to let go.

"It suddenly ran from its carer, jumped on to me and clung on like I was a tree. It wouldn't let go for at least five minutes,'' Joshua said. "He was a cheeky one and it was an amazing experience because we had an instant connection.''

From that moment, Joshua - who is studying ecology and environmental management at Victoria University's Werribee campus - made a commitment to help the endangered great ape.

His passion is so strong that he recently bought an ape suit, sprayed it orange and skated around the city dressed in the costume.

Holding a sign which read "Save the Orangutans", he spent the day raising awareness of the plight of the apes while being filmed by a friend.

Joshua, 23, has submitted the video to a worldwide competition in the hope of being selected to travel to Borneo for five months, star in a 3D movie, make a documentary and build a safari park to help save the orangutans.

TakingITGlobal (TIG) is looking for 10 young leaders to live in the Borneo jungle to implement the DeforestACTION project. The project will connect with the world through the web, providing updates for millions of students across the globe. The lucky competition winners will also help create the world's largest and most technology-rich orangutan sanctuary on earth.

Joshua's video, in which he states the reasons why he should be considered for the project, has been uploaded to the TIG website as well as YouTube, where it is receiving a large amount of votes.

He said he hopes more people will vote for him before the April 10 deadline because "it would be a life changing experience to be part of this very worthwhile project''.

"I've always been interested in the environment and I loved animals when I was growing up. Orangutans are so full of emotion and so majestic. They're an incredible animal and the Indonesian translation of orangutan is "forest man" because they are so human-like.

"It would be devastating to see them become extinct. There are 40,000 of them left so we can save them but we just have to be active.''

You can view Josh's video and vote for him at

Photo opportunity: Joshua Nicolaou dressed in his orangutan suit (no mask).

For interview: Joshua Nicolaou on 0433 519 580


Media contact:

Daniel Clarke, Media Officer,

VU Marketing and Communications Department

Ph: 9919 9491 or 0407 771 072

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