Founded in 1964 with the aim of rehabilitating orphaned and confiscated orangutans, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary consists of 43 square kilometres on the edge of Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.
Today somewhere between 60 and 80 wild orangutans live in the reserve, and around 25 young orphans are housed in the centre’s nurseries, where highly trained and motivated staff provide medical care.
Although the education of both local people and visitors is one of the centre’s key objectives, this is never allowed to interfere with the rehabilitation process, so visitors are restricted to walkways and are not allowed to approach or handle the primates. However, on occasion the orangutans themselves are seemingly either unaware of this rule, or reluctant to obey it!
In the wild, infant orangutans remain with their mothers for up to six years while learning the skills necessary to survive in the forest – the most important of which is climbing. The centre uses a buddy system – in which a young animal is paired with an older one – to replace a mother’s teaching and help pass on the requisite skills.
View suggested itineraries