For planning purposes, the entry fee for non-Malaysian adults is RM10 and the center is opened from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
I watched with amazement these little creatures play in trees. They truly are climbers. They would have put to shame some monkeys! Then, I saw a familiar face in the crowd and had the chance to meet with Siew Te Wong, the world expert on sun bears and the founder of the center. He was walking the grounds like any other employee. From talking to him, I was horrified at learning that these bears are not only endangered because of shrinking habitat, they actually get shot as pests by locals or are raised as pets. I’m not sure if I really should have been surprised, from what I have seen so far, wildlife is not high on the priority list in South East Asia.
Sun bears are the smallest amongst bears and the less studied of them. They have a patch of color on their chest to which the specie owes its name. Their muzzle are short and lighter in color, and on a completely different note you never would imagine how long their tongues are! Just wait till they stick it out. I wonder if this an evolutionary advantage given their voracious appetite for honey…
When I visited the site, I asked if any of the bears would be ready for release in the wild anytime soon. The answer was no. I’m not sure if it’s because of a lack of habitat to release them to or if it’s that the bears are really not ready.
A very nasty older American lady happened to be there at the same time as I. She harassed the scientist all because she deemed the bears to be too far for decent pictures. He tried to explain to her that this was done on purpose so that the bears don’t get used to humans and have a better chance of being reintroduced in the wild. The lady just kept going and insisted she should have her money back. I am not sure how he managed to keep his cool, since she kept this up for a good half an hour. These are the types of tourists that make me cringe. Anyway.
I spent a great deal of time here before heading on to the orangutans center, in time for the 15:30 feeding.
For planning purposes, entry fee non-Malaysian adults is RM30 and the center is opened from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
There are two feedings, one at 10:00 AM and one at 3:00 PM. Your ticket gives you access to the two feedings. It seems this was my lucky day, the afternoon feeding didn’t have nearly as much tourists as anticipated and the feeding platforms were quite populated by orangutans. I must have seen a total of 8 orangutans, from the small scraggly one (who eats quite a bit) to the largest one.
It was funny, one even tried to get away with three bunches of bananas. Her hands and feet were so full that she barely could maneuver the ropes to get off the platform.
It was really nice to be able to get a glimpse of these critically endangered animals. Orangutans are native to Indonesia and Malaysia and belong to the great apes family (along with gorillas, chimpanzees – Jane Goodall anyone? I was fascinated by her work as a kid. – and, yes, humans). They can now only be found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. They are considered among the most intelligent of the primates, a characteristic shown by their use of sophisticated tools and their construction of elaborated sleeping nests every nights high in the trees. As you walk the site, if you look up you can see some of the abandoned nests.
To learn more about orangutans, visit the Orangutans Foundation International’s website. For planning purposes, entry fee for non-Malaysian adults is RM30 and you have to pay RM10 to be able to use your camera.The center is opened 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day.