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Tour of Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Two Young Orangutans

From Kota Kinabalu

Getting There

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is located in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo. There are several ways you could get to the Centre. Public transport buses operate from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, a journey of about 5 hours. Sandakan is the closest town to the Centre’s reception office and is about 23 kms. away.  You could also take a tour bus from Kota Kinabalu.

Once you arrive at Sandakan you could hire a taxi to the Centre. There is a taxi stand outside the Centre too. Minivans also operate with one leaving every hour. If you take the Kota Kinabalu/Sandakan bus you could hop off at Jalan Sepilok, which is a junction just two and a half kilometres from the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. From Sandakan the public transport bus bearing ‘Sepilok Batu 14’ sign will take you directly to the Centre. They start operating from 6 in the morning.

About Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
First started by an Englishwoman, this first of its kind, rehabilitation centre opened in 1964.  It is located in a corner of the fabulously green and relatively virgin Sepilok Forest Reserve.  Occupying about 43 square kilometres it is the largest orang utan sanctuary in the world.

The objective of the Centre is to repatriate orphaned, injured, rescued, displaced (by logging or development projects) or previously captive orang utans into their natural habitat. They are taught the necessary skills needed to survive in the jungle via a mentoring system. This involves pairing the new/young arrivals with another older veteran of the system.  

The creatures are not kept in captivity in the Centre, rather they set free and encouraged to forage and fend for themselves. Though the Centre has feeding sessions every day at 10am and 3pm, the diet is kept deliberately monotonous. It is supposed to act only as a supplement, for these gentle red-haired apes, and promote their search for a more varied and self-acquired meal. This helps them to get used to living in the wild.

Physical (or any other) interaction between visitors and staff of the Centre is not encouraged or permitted. That is because the Centre does not want any attachments to develop, diseases transmitted. Also the orang utans are sometimes unpredictable.  Weighing in at an average 135/140 kgs., they are very strong and dangerous to tangle with.

Visitors to the centre can observe the orang utans at feeding times.  There is no guarantee that you will get to see many orang utans. Non-appearance of these attractive and appealing animals is a testament to the success of the rehabilitation process. When the trees are bearing fruit the chances are that they will not show up. Having said that, the Sepilok Centre, is a very popular tourist attraction because of the very regular sightings that occur.

There are plenty of other wild creatures to see. The Centre also cares and treats sun bears, gibbons and Sumatran rhinos. Noisy Macaques are aplenty including flying squirrels.

Visiting Hours:
Entrance Gate: 8am till 5pm – Daily
Ticket Counter: 9am to 11m & 2pm till 3:30pm

Orang Utan Feeding Times:  10am and 3pm. You should try and get to the feeding area about 15 to 20 minutes before.

Admission Fee:
Adults – RM30
Children below 18 years – RM15

Camera Fee: RM10

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  1. comment by: Thailand Excursions on Apr 03 at 05:52

    Orang Utan a very entertaining species found in Thailand. In the khao Kheow Open Zoo you can watch show i.e breakfast with Suriya (Orang Utan).

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