Seeing Orang Utans In The Wild Then At The Zoo

I'm not sure what our kids loved more.  The boat ride, being able to run wild through a long cage tunnel or making out with baby orang utans.  I know for me it was the making out with baby orang utans.  Even Cam got in on the action.

Apparently there are only three places in the entire world where you can see orangutans in their natural habitat, one of which is on Orang Utan Island in Bukit Merah, Malaysia.  Since we rented a car for our last week in Penang, we decided to check out the orang utans then head to the zoo.

About an hour from Penang is a 5 acre island in the middle of a lake.  It's billed as the world's first and only rehabilitation and conservation facility where orang utans roam free.  The island serves as a breeding sanctuary as well as a conservation, research and education center to better understand this endangered species.

We took the 5 minute boat ride across and entered the long cage (think reverse zoo) where the kids proceeded to run wild while we searched for orang utans.  There were several hanging around.  Even some mommies with their cute babies.  The guide threw fruit out for them so they would come closer.  It felt wild but not so much.

As we headed back we passed the kindergarten area where the babies sometimes hang out. This seems more for show and not the wild experience at all but it was super fun to watch all the kids kissing the glass and trying to hug the Orang Utans.  Our kids did not want to leave but eventually we made it back to a boat after missing ours and away we went for the 5 minute ride back.  Very glad we were able to see the orang utans in the wild before we went to the zoo.

Seeing orang utans at the zoo was really depressing. They seemed so overweight and exposed. See if you can pick out which picture below is the orang utan from the zoo

Orang utans are amazing creatures.  Here's some fun facts about orang utans:

  • The females have a period
  • They are the largest tree dwelling animal in the world
  • Orang utan comes from two Malay words that literally translated means “forest people”
  • They are an endangered species, with only 20- 27,000 left in the wild
  • They can live a long time, some even over 50 years
  • Orang utans’ arms are stronger and longer than their legs (1½ times longer)
  • They are the largest primates, and can be up to five feet tall with an arm span of 8 feet
  • Females only give birth every 7 to 9 years, and their gestation period is about nine months 
  • Orang utans eat primarily fruit and range over a large territory to find enough each day
  • Adult males lead mostly solitary lives except when mating with females
  • They rarely descend from treetops to ground, when they do, they usually walk on all fours
  • They live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra (in Malaysia and Indonesia)

The island is about an hour drive from Penang and getting there will cost you around 6.90RM in tolls.  Adult 35RM Kid 18RM (over 90cm)

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