Set up in 1964, the centre cares for 60-80 orphaned orang utans at a time. Feeding times — 10am and 3pm — are with the park rangers.
While helping them return back to the wilds, the centre does an excellent job of educating visitors and research in this important conservation field. The orang utan are deliberately fed a very monotonous diet of bananas and milk. This encourages them to go out and fend for themselves and find a more interesting menu, preparing them for the wild. Using a buddy system, older ones teach and show the younger ones the skills needed for a rainforest life — most importantly, climbing.
Our guide advises us not to dress in bright colours, especially yellow, in case we are mistaken for a very large, attractive banana.
As we return to the car park, we encounter one orang utan that is trying to make a break for the border. He seems to be attracted to a young woman wearing a very brightly coloured outfit. He’s only a young orang utan, but you won’t want to be on the receiving end of his physical might. A ranger carefully escorts the broken-hearted, jilted redhead back to his home. Next is the Rainforest Discovery Centre, also ideal for school and family outings. It has in place a very informative environmental programme to increase awareness of sustainable forest resources and tropical rainforests. Only a short drive away from the orang utan centre, you should spend at least the afternoon here. The garden will introduce you to colourful displays of native orchids, pitcher and ginger plants, as well as insect and wildlife.
The sun bears are only a short walk away from Sabah’s original nature attraction, the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.