Only 20 minutes by road from Sandakan
(25 km) and you'll come at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. This world-famous Sanctuary enables visitors to come in close contact with the remarkable "Orang Utan" which means
"man of the forest" in Malaysian. The red-haired Orang Utans are amust-see, when you bring a visit to Sabah. Here, in the Sepilok Orang Utan
Rehabilitation Centre, young orphaned or captive orang utans are taught survival skills so that they may return to their natural habitat. After that, they are released into the forest.
The Rehabilitation Centre is set in 43 square kilometers of beautiful virgin rainforest. The Sanctuary started in 1964 to help once-captive Orang Utan and to teach them to fend for themselves in the wild.
After watching orphaned orang utans being taught how to climb, visitors proceed to a platform. At that platform they can watch the semi-wild
orang utans come in from their jungle hides for their twice-daily ration of milk and bananas.
These large red apes - man's closest relative- are astonishingly gentle and highly intelligent, gazing at visitors with almost disconcerting frankness.
To avoid the spread of disease, touching the animals is not permitted inside the Rehabilitation Centre. However, it is usually possible to meet
and photograph a couple of the mature females, who are so fond of human company that they refuse to go back to the wild, just outside the
The Sanctuary also houses a couple of highly endangered Sumatran rhinos, and occasionally other animals such as elephants. There is an Information
Nature Education Centre, and a mini-theater where a documentary video about the work of the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is shown.
Visitors areadvised to arrive about one hour in advance to register and enjoy
activities prior to the feeding. It is possible to take a taxi to SepilokRehabilitation Centre and have it wait for your return. There are also infrequent buses marked
"Sepilok" leaving from the station near the Central Market. All tour operators offer guided tours which include transport.
There's also a Mangrove Forest Trail. This trail in the Sepilok Centre and takes about 2-3 hours walking one way. Interesting features include a
scenic stream, water-holes, transitional forest, pristine lowland rain forest, boardwalks into the mangrove forest and wildlife tracks.
Note: Orang-utans have brown and rust-coloured shaggy fur. They weigh an
average of 50 kg (110 lb) and can weigh over 90 kg (200 lb). The orang-utan lives in tropical, swamp and mountain forests, where it eats mostly fruit, leaves and insects.