Meet Anna Ingrid Woolcott Feliciano. The Danish Aussie animal lover who’s lived in more countries than most people will ever visit.
Where do you come from?
I am half Australian and half Danish. I’m officially an Australian, and I was born in Canberra, which I regret to say. Probably one of the most boring places in the world- no offence to anyone. My mother is from Denmark, from a town called Viborg and my father an Australian born in Sydney.
How long have you lived in Indonesia?
I believe I first moved to Indonesia because my father was posted here as the Ambassador for Australia in 1975. I was only 16, and I attended the Jakarta Embassy School (which is now known as JIS). After graduating in 1977 I worked in the Ragunan Zoo for the Orangutan Rehab centre with a very eccentric and amazing woman named Ulrike Von Mengden. I worked for a period of eight months until I moved to Kalimantan to help set up a Rehabilitation Centre for Orangutans. The centre was founded by the WWF and run by the arboreal department of the University of Copenhagen, which was part of my University course. I spent one year in Kalimantan and left in 1979. Then moved back to Indonesia with my husband and my four children in 1991 until now. So I think that makes a total of 25 years… that’s half my life!
Being the daughter of a diplomat, I hear you’ve moved around quite a bit. Apart from Indonesia, which other countries have you lived in and which has been your favourite so far?
Let’s start from the beginning. Born in Australia, moved to Russia, then to Malaysia, then Singapore then we moved back to Australia for a couple of years, until my father was posted to Ghana. Following that we moved to Indonesia then to the Philippines where my father was posted as Ambassador. After that was Denmark. I moved back to the Philippines then moved to New York City where I got married to my husband. Following that we moved to Singapore then Thailand then back to America to a town called Darien, in Connecticut. Then back again to the Philippines. Lastly and finally back to Indonesia. Wow, that was hard to remember. So my favourite amongst the countries I lived in was definitely Ghana. In Ghana it was the people. I loved the people. I found that they were really very nice. And of course the animals! Animals have always been my passion from a young age.
Wow, that’s a total of 10 countries! So tell us a little bit about your family. Where does your husband come from and how long have you been married for?
I have four children, one girl born in the Philippines, Bianca. Then Marco my oldest son was born in Singapore. Then my twins Nicholas and Paolo were born in Connecticut. My husband’s name is Roberto Antonio Feliciano and he is from the Philippines, but funnily enough I met him not while I lived in the Philippines but in New York City, where he worked for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank. We got married in Cold Springs, New York and had our honeymoon in Boston. We have our 26th Anniversary on March 21st! I can’t believe I’ve been married for 26years. It’s impossible!
Any plans for Valentines Day?
Well, normally I don’t like planning ahead. Pretty sure I’m leaving that for my husband to surprise me!
Apart from your family, I’ve been told you also have a love for animals and orangutans in particular! Could you tell us a little about the charities or organisations you’ve been involved in over the years?
I have only ever been involved with the World Wild Life Foundation and their orangutan programmes in Kalimantan, Sumatra and the rehabilitation centre in Jakarta. While my oldest son Marco was in JIS I helped organise a Charity Run to raise money for food, medicines and supplies for the Rehabilitation Centre in the Ragunan zoo which always needs any kind of assistance.
Do you have any funny or fond memories from your time working with orangutans?
God… many! I guess one of the funniest stories happened here in the rehab centre when I worked with Ulrike Von Mengden. The baby orangutans had this habit of using Ms. Von Mengden’s toilet as their personal hair salon in which they’d stick and flush their heads into the toilet bowl, they would continue to spit the toilet water at all of us and use their hands to mess up their wet hair. They were so funny! They would come out of the toilet walking around like they were half drunk. Baby orangutans are the cutest things. Working in the field is an experience that is indescribable.
What organisations would you could recommend for other animal lovers interested in volunteering here in Indonesia?
Well, I have been out of the loop for awhile now. There is only one I can really recommend, which is the Orangutan Rehabilitation centre at the Ragunan Zoo, here in Jakarta. But my advice is, if you love animals, Indonesia needs a lot of care. You should look around, ask at the Zoo and other animal related foundations like WWF and see if there are any programmes or volunteering opportunities about.
To learn more and to help the orang-utans please contact the assistant of Ulrike Freifrau von Mengden, Ms. Barbara Ossenkopp. Tel: +6281399393943 or e-mail: [email protected]