From Sunglasses to Sanctuaries: The Truth About Orangutan Captivity and the Rehabilitation Centres Making a Difference

From Sunglasses to Sanctuaries: The Truth About Orangutan Captivity and the Rehabilitation Centres Making a Difference

You may have seen the cheeky orangutan in the news recently, being filmed rocking a pair of children’s sunglasses that had found their way into the orangutan enclosure of Bali Zoo.

Although it does seem cute at first glance, the video illuminates a larger issue in relation to the captivity of orangutans in zoos and other facilities.

credit: Channel 9 News 


Those sunglasses may have been one of the most stimulating events to happen for the orangutans at Bali Zoo in a long time. Orangutans, being highly intelligent animals, need a large area of natural habitat to flourish. Boredom, stress and physical health problems are just some of the issues that may arise from keeping orangutans in captivity.

Although the zoo claims to have a conservation role, the extended periods of time orangutans are kept in enclosures, paired with the photo opportunities, leads some to question the credibility of the zoo’s intentions.

The good news is zoos aren’t the only places that orangutans are kept. There are several reputable rehabilitation centres that aim to provide a safe haven for our orange friends. These centres still provide all the benefits of rehabilitation and recovery that zoo’s do, minus the exploitation. Their goal is simple; rescue and care for the orangutans, with the goal of eventually releasing them into the wild.

Although these reputable centers are not open to the public, let's have a look at a number of rehabilitation centres that you may not have heard of.

International non-profit organisation The Orangutan Project operates two rescue and rehabilitation centres - one in Borneo and one in Sumatra.

BORA Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre:

The Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, located in the Labanan Research Forest in East Kalimantan, is run in partnership between The Orangutan Project and the Centre for Orangutan Protection. The Centre provides care and support for orphaned and displaced Bornean orangutans as they are rehabilitated back to the wild.  

SRA Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre:

The Sumatran Orangutan Rescue Alliance (SRA) Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, located in North Sumatra, is run in partnership between The Orangutan Project, Centre for Orangutan Protection and the Orangutan Information Centre. The Centre was opened in January 2022 and is home to orphaned Sumatran orangutans who are undergoing rehabilitation for eventual release back to the wild.

Other rescue and rehabilitation centres supported by The Orangutan Project include:

Orangutan Quarantine Centre:

Located in Medan, North Sumatra, and serves as a quarantine and rehabilitation facility for rescued orangutans. The centre provides medical treatment, rehabilitation, and socialisation for orangutans before they are released back into the wild.

Orangutan Reintroduction Centre:

Located in Bukit Tigapuluh, Sumatra, the Centre is designed to prepare orangutans for reintroduction to the wild. The centre functions as a soft-release program, where orangutans are steadily released into the wild while still receiving supplemental food and medical treatment.

These are only some of the many responsible orangutan rehabilitation centres in the world. These centres are integral to the survival of orangutans and demonstrate that orangutans can be cared for and rehabilitated in captivity ethically. It’s important that we all do our part to support ethical organisations like The Orangutan Project and conservation efforts to ensure that Critically Endangered species have a fighting chance of survival.

At Sweet Cheeks Bamboo, we chose to sponsor The Orangutan Project as their commitment to protecting natural habitats, promoting sustainable practices in local communities and rehabilitation efforts aligns with our mission. We hope to use Bamboo Toilet Paper as an eco-friendly way to highlight the importance of making sustainable choices to support orangutan conservation. By making ethical choices, whether it be in your bathroom or on your next holiday, YOU can help save these amazing, highly intelligent animals.





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