Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center 🦧
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is a conservation center located in Sabah, Malaysia. It was established in 1964 to help rescue, rehabilitate, and release orphaned and injured orangutans back into the wild.
The center is home to about 80 to 100 orangutans who have been orphaned or displaced due to habitat loss and poaching. Here the locals have established a safe and natural environment for these primates to learn and develop essential skills needed for their survival in the wild.
It also serves as an educational center for visitors to learn about the conservation efforts being undertaken to protect these critically endangered primates.
It was our first day in Sepilok, and after our first tastes of Borneo – visiting Kota Kinabalu and rafting down the Padas river – we were keen to get a closeup view of the orangutans.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is the reason most visitors come to Sepilok. Here, you can enjoy a very pleasant and informative day out ‘with the apes’.
The reserve is just 5 minutes down the road from the Sepilok Jungle Resort. They are open every day from 9 am to 4 pm. As a non-Malaysian, you pay RM 30 entrance fee (RM 15 for children). This includes an introductory video show about the work done for the orangutans at the sanctuary – a nice starter to your day out.
Even though they live independently in the reserve, you are guaranteed to see the orangutans. A few of them come down each day to a feeding platform, where staff offer them a variety of fruit.
Feeding Times are Fun!
You are free to wander around the reserve to try to spot the various apes and birds at random, following a designated pathway. A good time to do this is during the feeding sessions, while most other tourists are busy taking snaps with their zoom lenses (the feeding platform is around 20 meters from the viewing deck).
There are two daily feeding sessions: 10 am and 3 pm.
The orangutans can be quite curious, and there’s good chance you’ll have some up-close and personal encounters.
As always with primates, keep your belongings attached to your body. They have been known to steal bags, cameras, rucksacks, and even the clothes off the backs of some unlucky visitors. 🙈🙉🙊
The main impression we had when we met the orangutans close up was the absolute intelligence in their faces. Even though they are 4 times more powerful than a man, they are not intimidating or aggressive – unlike other primates we’ve encountered. Apparently, there are some 80-100 Orangutans in the reserve, though we spotted only around 4 or 5.
They’re shy, but will venture close if there’s any chance of food.
Nature Trails… and Leeches!
After spending the morning in the main area of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, we decided to try the longest of the available Nature Trails, which take you off the wooden pathways and out into the real rain forest.
If you intend to trek around the reserve make sure you wear trainers or boots – unless you also want to feed the leeches.
After seeing the apes, you can also visit the Sun Bear reserve near by, next to the main entrance.
Sandakan to Kuala Lumpur
After spending a short time in Sepilok, the next and final leg of our journey through Malaysia was a return to Kuala Lumpur, with 2 days to discover the capital city.
If you enjoyed Meeting the Borneo apes, check out our other East Malaysia & Borneo adventures. You may also like: