Orangutans in Borneo Southeast Asia travel adventure

Orangutans in Borneo

I’m still buzzing from being just steps away from a couple of orangutans in Borneo!

Humans are very close relatives, sharing more than 95% of DNA with humans, and you could tell. They’re rare and were fascinating to watch.

Orangutans are about four times stronger than humans, so this is the closest I’d want to be

Orangutan infants often cling to their mothers for the first 2-4 years

Orangutans in Borneo and other wildlife

I actually saw orangutans in Borneo twice earlier in my trip, but they were so far away that it just looked like shadowy ape-like figure in the tree with a slightly reddish/brown color. It was exciting at the time, but turned out to be just an appetizer for this experience.

Quick facts on Orangutans:

  • You might think their name comes from the color of their fur (appears orange at times), but that’s not correct. The word orangutan is derived from two malay words:  ‘orang’ = ‘man’ (people), and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’
  • Our closest relatives: The orangutan is a member of the Great Apes, which also includes humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas (chimps are not monkeys).
  • The major difference between Great Apes and monkeys: apes do not have tails.
  • There’s 2 species of Orangutans: Sumatran (found in northern Sumatra, island of Indonesia) and Bornean, aka Pongo Pigmaeus
  • Population – there are estimated to be just 30-50,000 orangutans in the wild
  • Orangutans are big, the largest tree dwelling mammals in the world. The females are 75-110 lbs, 3’9-4’2. The males are typically twice that weight, at 110-220 lbs, 4’6-4’7 feet.
  • They spend nearly their entire day in the trees, 20-100 feet off the ground.

Look at them chow down! I get that hungry too!

Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world. Loved seeing orangutans in Borneo!
Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!
Eat, sleep, play:

Their typical day revolves around eating, resting, and moving between eating and resting sites. Outstanding!  Day travel ranges from a few hundred feet, to as much as nearly two miles (half mile on average). They make a new nest every night.

Solitary Creatures:

Males primarily live alone and only come together with females for mating. Adult females live with their offspring when their young.

What have you been eating??

Their diet is 60% fruit. In addition they also eat some plants, flowers, bark, ants, caterpillars, fungi, spiders, termites, and more.

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

You’ll find them orangutan rehab centers in both the Sabah and Sarawak region of Malaysian Borneo.  Both are a temporary home for various endangered wildlife.

They focus on orangutans that were rescued from captivity. You’ll notice there’s no bars or cages – this is NOT a zoo. The orangutans come and go as they please. They help train them with basic skills that they would have learned. The goal is to reintroduce orangutans into the wild.  Visitors can have a chance to see them at twice daily feeding times.

Also, I was on my way out of the park when I spotted an orangutan right near me, and continuing to approach.  Wow!

My photos in this post are from my trip to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.   If you like this, I also recommend Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre as well.

Other wildlife I’ve seen in the wild

If you’ve been reading this blog, by now you’ve realized that I’m fascinated by wildlife. Outside of deers and raccoons in the woods behind my yard growing up, the only wild life I experienced was the Bronx Zoo (still one of the most impressive zoos I’ve been to!).  This was memorable!

In addition to orangutans in Borneo, I also saw other wildlife too. I thought that might be the only time I was that close to anything so human-like in the wild, but little did I know that the very next day I discovered peculiar Probiscus Monkeys with huge noses in the Borneo wild!

Other amazing baby wildlife from my trip included seeing baby elephants and baby monkeys in Borneo were adorable!  I also saw other types of animals up close, including sharks, camels,  tarsiers, monkeys, and more!

Where is Borneo?

Map with Borneo Map of Borneo island

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