While in Borneo, we stopped at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre outside of Kuching. Semenggoh has been successfully rehabilitating orphaned and injured wild animals since 1975. These animals are taught how to survive in their native habitat and then re-introduced into the wild.

Semenggoh’s orang-utan rehabilitation program has been particularly successful, with many having been released into the surrounding forest reserve — which has reached its sustainable capacity for these amazing, intelligent creatures. Orang-utan rehabilitation has since been transferred to the Matang Wildlife Centre in another national park in Borneo.

Yet Semenggoh remains a special place. Rehabilitated “semi-wild” orang-utans often return to this center during its morning and afternoon feeding times. It’s a safe place to find an easy meal. In Malay, orang means person and utan means forest, and there’s always an eager audience waiting and hoping for these “people of the forest” to make an impromptu appearance at Semenggoh.

We were lucky on this Friday morning, as a male orang-utan swung through the canopy and stopped for some sugar cane and durian. At first just a mass of reddish hair, I finally discerned his figure as he moved around a tree trunk — upside down, downside up, limbs stretching in all directions. Finally… a face. Just for a moment. Then a leap, a grab, a durian, and a perch under leaves on a tree limb. Breakfast, privacy, a glance at us on the ground, another bite. And then off again into the treetops.


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