No (visible) Orang Utans

Look up! Our guide taught us that orang utans nest high in the treetops in leafy nests. We could see the mass of jungle foliage in the crooks between branches high above our heads.

No water bottle.
No flash cameras,
No plastic bags.

Orang utans have learned what humans use to carry drink and water and take them. Flashes on cameras just piss them off.


I’d love to show you images of amazingly cool orang utans, but we were unlucky that day. The feeding time came and went. The park ranger even made a noise to alert them there was food.

Everyone was milling about the viewing platform quietly, taking pictures of the trees above (ahem like me) and macro close ups of insects and plants. Waiting. We were all waiting.

I guess I would say I was disappointed to not see these animals in the wild. Apparently, this time of year is fruiting-season, which I didn’t even think about, which means that these primates can forage for all their food and not need human assistance. That made me feel good: the fact that this sanctuary is working by proving that these rescued primates can survive in the wild.

I imagine the orang utans would prefer to eat in the trees and not in front of some thin skinned, hairless folks who just stare at them. I mean, when we went to Bako National Park, the rangers explained that staring at the macaques or proboscus monkeys meant you were challenging them… I’m not sure how gazing with admiration doesn’t look similar to staring in animal speak..

The guide showed us a series of photos where rangers were harmed trying to protect tourists from orang utan attacks. Fingers ripped or bitten off, gashes in legs, people on stretchers with bloodied bandages; this was the real deal and the goal was to observe, be cautious, and respect that these are wild powerful creatures.

This is a map of the park. All the orange highlights are off limits to tourists.


The gallery had photos of the resident orang utans, information about the sanctuary and the geography of primate location in Borneo.

The horribly bleached out photo is of 1 of 2 mean looking resident crocodiles kept in cages in the park.

I don’t deter you from going to Semenggoh based on my experience. in fact, we met a Romanian tourist who went only 3 days after we did and saw 4 orang utans at feeding time. I consider myself lucky to get to experience Borneo and am glad to know I made a trip to visit a successful rehabilitation sanctuary.


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