I usually come across orangutans whenever I visit zoos. There is something about these gentle apes that truly make them so adorable in my eyes. They will lovingly hold your hand and will look deep in your eyes as if begging you to make some time to play with them even for just a short time. Who could say no to that?
Anyone who finds these orangutans cute and cuddly must not pass up the chance to visit them at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center can be found about twenty-five kilometers west of Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia. It is quite easy to find the way to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. For one, there are quite a number of travel agencies who would gladly include anyone who is interested in a tour group. If not interested in joining a tour, one can take a public bus like one from the Labuk Road Bus that departs Sandakan starting from 6:00 am. After getting off the bus, one would have to walk a bit more to reach the entrance. The Center is about 20 kilometers from the heart of town.
The center is set up in an environment surrounded by about 4, 000 plus hectares of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and is under the governance of the Wildlife Department of Sabah, no less. It is divided into several sections namely the main reception, an information center, an animal clinic, quarantine section/area, enclosures for different animals, and of course, offices for the staff. These facilities are managed by a diligent and hardworking group composed of more than thirty staff members – an Officer in Charge who is also referred to as the Wildlife Officer, Wildlife Rangers, Veterinary Doctors, and other workers who make sure that everything is in tip-top shape.
This rehabilitation facility was established in 1964 for the purpose of caring for the orangutans and making sure that the ones that are orphaned one way or another are returned to the wild where they can live on their own amongst their kind. These baby orangutans are mostly saved from misinformed people who keep them as household pets. Some are rescued from illegal poachers and forest sites where trees are being cut down. While at the Sepilok Orangutan Center, the baby orangutans are cared for and trained so that they are able to survive in the wild once they are released. The number of orangutans housed in the reserve at a time range from fifty to about a hundred.
The center has become a favorite destination of tourists who would like to be able to view these orangutans up close and personal in a setting that is very close to their natural habitat. It is not every day that you can encounter an orangutan. But even if this is the case, one must remember that this is still a Rehabilitation Center and all animals are meticulously cared for. Because of this, people who visit are restricted to certain areas to view the orangutans. A particular walkway leads to both the viewing area and the feeding platform where one can observe the orangutans feed. The feeding schedule is done at around mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Some people usually depend on the zoom lenses of their cameras to capture the orangutans from the walkway.
After viewing the orangutans, adventurous visitors can opt to join trekking tours while in Sepilok. It is a fine idea most especially since Sepilok is surrounded by lush forests. There are other animals that can be viewed during the trek including certain species of lizards, birds, and insects.
These days, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center has evolved and expanded. They are not concerned only about the welfare of orangutans but have also taken on the responsibility of educating the public on the conservation of animals and their environment plus more intensive research to protect and breed endangered species and many more.
A visit to this center will open one’s eyes to the beauty of what surrounds us. May we all do our part in making sure that we give back to nature what it has been giving us thousand times over.
Address: Batu 14, Jalan Labuk Sandakan Sabah
Telephone Number: 6 089 531180
Fax Number: 6 089 531189
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Main Gate: Open daily from 8.00am until 5.00pm
Ticketing Desk and Reception Area: Open daily from 9.00am until 11.00am and 2.00pm until 3.30pm
Exhibition Hall: Open from 9.00am until 4.30pm (except Fridays)