Meet The Animals At The Great Orangutan Project!

Meet The Animals At The Great Orangutan Project!

Posted by Ellie Hutchin on Mar 15, 2018

We would like you to get to know some of the animals at The Great Orangutan Project on a first name basis. Check out the images below to find out more about some of the permanent residents at the sanctuary and the stories behind how they ended up here...


Aman Matang Wildlife Centre

Age: 30
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: 21 years.
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: Aman was bought from a market in 1989, at which point he was estimated to be about 1 year old. He was later surrendered to the authorities and sent to Semenggoh. Semenggoh was the only centre for confiscated or surrendered orangutans in Sarawak in 1989; Matang didn’t open until 1997. Semenggoh focused on releasing orangutans into semi-wild conditions, habituating them to feeding platforms where they placed food twice a day. Unfortunately, Aman did not do well at Semenggoh as he is so accustomed to non-wild surroundings - he was rarely seen in the trees and instead spent his time exploring human areas. Sadly, Aman wandered out of Semenggoh reserve and into a construction site in a nearby village where he bit through a mains power cable, causing cataracts to develop, and he also suffered the loss of his tongue. With complete loss of sight, Aman could no longer remain semi-wild. He was kept in an enclosure for a couple of years at Semenggoh and was then moved to Matang when it opened in 1997. Aman remained blind for a further 10 years at the wildlife centre until 2007 when he made history by becoming the first orangutan in the world to have cataract surgery. The operation completely restored his vision, and he’s had perfect sight ever since! Unfortunately, even with his sight restored, Aman is not fit for release due to his level of habituation to humans and the risk this poses to him and to people. However, he is a very content and charismatic orangutan!


Tingsan The Great Orangutan Project

Age: Approximately 14 years old.
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: 12 years
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: Tingsan was found completely by chance, and we dread to think what could have happened to her if she wasn't. In 2006, police went to an address to arrest a suspect for a completely unrelated crime. Upon arrival at the property they discovered a young orangutan in a box, whom they believed to be around 1-2 years old. Tingsan now has a much happier life being cared for in the sanctuary by staff and volunteers, and as you can see, she is extremely cheeky!


Shirley at orangutan sanctuary in Malaysia

Age: Approximately 41 years old
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: 7 years
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: Shirley is a fully grown adult female who was transferred to Matang in September 2011. Her date of birth is estimated to have been between 1977 and 1982, and she was born in the wild in Sarawak. Though we do not have a precise record of her early years, we know that Shirley was poached from the wild, which means her mum was killed. She was then kept for an unknown amount of time before finally being rescued and sent to Matang. Nobody knows what trauma Shirley has faced before getting a new forever home at the sanctuary, and for this reason alone it is so rewarding to see that she is content and thriving today.


volunteer with orangutans at the matang wildlife centre

Age: 8 years old
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: Approximately 8 years.
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: Doc was born in early 2010 in the semi-wild setting of Semenggoh. Sadly, his mother died when he was still a dependent youngster and that was when he was transferred to the wildlife centre where he could be cared for and hand reared by staff. There are many 'surrogate mothers' at the sanctuary: adult female orangutans who care for the youngsters, and help to teach them forest skills, how to interact with enrichment and other orangutans too. While it is tragic that Doc lost his mother at such a young age, at least he's being looked out for by the older ladies in his happy life at the sanctuary.


orangutan enrichment at The Great Orangutan Project

Age: Approximately 6 years old.
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: 5 years.
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: Bunyau arrived at the centre in December 2013. He had been kept as a pet for an unknown period of time. When he arrived, Bunyau was in a critical condition. Based on his dentition, it is estimated that he was about one year old yet he was severely undernourished and had the body size of just a three-month-old baby. With round the clock care from a small team of staff, Bunyau regained his health and went from strength to strength.

young orangutans playing at The Great Orangutan Project

He now lives with his best friend Doc, and they are inseparable playmates. Both of these adorable little juveniles are adored by surrogate mother orangutans, Catherine and Doris.

Ohm And Maria
ohm and maria at matang wildlife centre

Age: Both are approximately 18 years old.
Time At The Great Orangutan Project: Approximately 15 years.
Journey Into Sanctuary Care: The approximate date of birth of these orangutan is 2000-2002. They were born in the wild in Sarawak, though orphaned and sadly sold into the pet trade. They were used in shows, zoos, and hotel entertainment prior to being rescued and transferred to the centre. Ohm is a young male and has developed cheek pads in the last year and Maria is a young female. Ohm is a meticulous nest builder, he loves receiving newspapers and cardboard boxes and he will rip these items up and weave them together in a very particular way to create the perfect nest.

So there you have just a few of the permanent residents at The Great Orangutan Project whom you could help should you volunteer with orangutans! However, this is not just a sanctuary for orangutans but all manner of other species too, so let's introduce you to some of those...

This is Baloo the sun bear. Here, Baloo can be seen in in the nursery room where dependent animals are cared for. These are often babies.

volunteer with sun bears on The Great Orangutan Project

Other species which can be found here include macaques, binturongs, and even a stunning clouded leopard!

Matang Wildlife Centre

If you want to see these beautiful animals in the flesh, feel free to submit an enquiry on our project page for more information on how to join in the conservation efforts of The Great Orangutan Project!

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Leanne's Profile Picture
Leanne commented 1 month ago
Hey there Kim! Leanne from The Great Projects here. Thanks for your comment - we can confirm that Doris is still around, spending her days eating durian fruit and enjoying spending time with little Bunyau :)
Leanne's Profile Picture
Leanne commented 1 month ago
Hey Corinna, it would be great to have you onboard! Feel free to send us a message and we'd be happy to assist :)
Corinna Mitchell commented 1 month ago
I would like to volunteer with the orangutan project.
Kim Polite commented 1 month ago
I volunteered in 2008. What happened to Doris?

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