If you are extremely lucky, there is a slim chance you see orangutans in the wild when you visit Borneo, but if you are not born under a lucky star, you will be glad to know, that Borneo has two rehabilitation centers where you can see orangutans. One center is placed in Sarawak, the other in Sabah. In Sarawak, you can visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, and in Sabah you can see orangutans in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Both centers work to secure the survival of orangutans in the wild and are partly financed by tourists.
The rehabilitation of the orangutans starts when the orangutans are brought to the centers or picked up by staff in villages where the apes have been kept as “pets” and lived in captivity. Typically the orangutans are very young when the centers get them, so the caretakers have to spend a lot of time teaching them the basics of being an orangutan so they can be set free again. In both centers, the orangutans live in reservations, and it is here you have the very unique opportunity to see them. And you should, because they are amazing creatures!
We visited both centers and we saw orangutans at both places, but if you don’t have a lot of time in Borneo I recommend you visit the Sepilok center. The facilities are better and the place is more “prepared” for tourists. In Sepilok, you are for example shown a movie about the work that the center does, and there are more guides in Sepilok which is not an unimportant thing as not orangutans are friendly. In Sepilok you are also allowed to walk around in the reservation which can lead to some pretty terrific orangutan-moments.
The young orangutan you see in the picture below was having a field day charming all the tourists with a little dance, and it was very clear that he/she knew there was an audience to all his/her shenanigans. After the dance, the orangutan climbed to the roof of the hut and started shutting the door even though it was very obvious the caretaker wanted it open. That resulted in an open, shut, open, shut, open-game for about ten minutes before the caretaker reprimanded the orangutan in a very stern voice. The orangutan didn’t seem to care too much.
After this little encounter, we went to see the nursery, and while I was with my back to the young orangutans everybody suddenly pulled out their cameras. I turned around, and just a few feet away from me three orangutans were strolling down a railing. That was great!
Smenggoh Wildlife Centre
In Semenggoh we were very quickly being led out of the reservation after we saw the orangutans being fed, and the guides seemed very nervous. But not for nothing we were told by our taxi driver who let us know there were rumors that an orangutan not so long ago had beaten a tourist with an umbrella.
Read more about Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre her: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Read more about Semenggoh Wildlife Centre her: Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
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