This experience was on Philipp’s bucket list so it was a must-do for us. The moment you step onto the ferry, you know you are headed to an adventure. This place blew our minds, we were in the cage and the orangutans (orang utan means “Man from the forest” in Malay) and monkeys roamed free. It was beautiful how they lived in their own environment.
This place is a conservation, rehabilitation, research, and education island. Since it’s inception in 2000, Orang Utan Island has progressed from being a sanctuary, where visitors experience first-hand awareness and education about the orangutan. It’s a world-renowned center dedicated to the care of Malaysia’s orangutans. It will convince you why the orangutan has endeared itself as a symbol of Malaysia.
During our visit, there were 16 orangutans at the sanctuary. Ine, our guide and human mama of the orangutans, was so educational giving us valuable insight into how these beautiful animals engage with each other. She has spent 10 years on the island; she shared with us how wonderful it was to see her babies, as she calls them, to be freed to their natural habitat while, like a real parent, at the same time it broke her heart to say goodbye.
The island plays an important role in building local conservation capacity by exposing visitors to aspects of primatology such as primate behavior and ecology.
In a group of orangutans, there is always one king. He is the alpha male; the king and the only male adult. There is always one king and if they are two males, they will fight each other till death with the winner becoming the new king. He has been there since he was twenty, he is now thirty-six. An orangutan can live as long as a human does.
Orang Utan Island is geared to serve as a temporary home for orangutans rescued from illegal possession or trade before being returned to their habitat. Click here to watch a video we put together so you can experience the island yourself.
If you are in this neck of the woods, I recommend putting this activity on your to-do list. It is an excursion about an hour outside of George Town, so you will need to find yourself a ride.
Of course, you can book one of the many commercial tours available to take you to the island. Instead, we had a lovely driver (Zul) take us to the sanctuary. If you need a driver, we recommend Zul to get around Penang and take you to Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island. Here is his Whatsapp information +60-19-592-7855. Tell him LingoHut sent you; he will take good care of you! (LingoHut receives no compensation or commission for this.)