We have visited and been supporters of the centre for a number of years during which time we have heard conflicting opinions from people that have visited; some likening it to a circus or zoo, saying that it is too touristy. We couldn’t disagree more. Wild orang utan swinging from trees is not a scene visitors should expect. The orang utan that have been living in the reserve for a long time don’t come to the platform for feeding, they are not seen by the tourists, they have been rehabilitated.
What you see are those that are in the last stage of rehabilitation. They have been released but are either a little lazy or still a bit timid to find their own food, so they return to the platform for an easy snack. The food supplied by the centre is purposefully designed to be monotonous and boring so as to encourage the apes to start to forage for themselves. Most animals eventually achieve total independence and become integrated into Sepilok’s wild orang utan population. To avoid overcrowding the forest, some are relocated to Tabin Wildlife Reserve, an area of virgin rainforest twice the size of Singapore.
In our opinion the centre, with the help of the Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK, carries out great work for the conservation and preservation of the orang utan population in Malaysian Borneo, and they provide vital education for both local people and foreign visitors. It is very rare and difficult to see these beautiful animals in the wild as they live in dense jungle and their numbers are so few. At Sepilok you are guaranteed to see the apes. By understanding the work that is being done and why it’s done, you won’t be disappointed with your visit.