Friday, April 10, 2009
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Under normal circumstances, a zoologist will most probably faint at the very idea of anyone referring to orang utans as monkeys. Under *not so normal circumstances, the orang utan will most probably pulverize you to submission if you call it a monkey.
We spent the final afternoon of our stay in Sarawak visiting the Orang Utan Sanctuary otherwise known as the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. Most of the animals here were rescued from terrible conditions and are taken care of (given food) in the wilderness. Although they are in contact with humans and have all been given names, they are not exactly tame. For instance, according to the person who gave a briefing before we saw them, the orang utans (especially the young uns) are capable of being mischievous and might snatch shiny objects and run off into the forest, and chances are you might never see your things again, because the forests border the neighbouring country and unlike us who need passports to travel around, the orang utans and their simple lifestyles don't require valid travel documents!
Over the years, the population of orang utans have grown, and to enable the public to view them, the wildlife centre opens the place during feeding time which is about 3 pm. It all seemed fine at first... the orang utans stayed on the trees and moved along the ropes to where the food was. And then she arrived... the oldest of the orang utans with the longest and shaggiest hair I've ever seen, and as you observe them moving, you can sense how strong they actually are. Imagine if they get annoyed with you for no apparent reason and decide to tear you from limb to limb! Scary!
Later on, we walked into a trail about 200 metres inside to reach another feeding area. There was a family eating there and there was also all these people busy clicking away at their cameras to capture shots of the family. The male sort of motioned the female and the baby to kind of hide, and he turned his back towards us (the people taking shots) and showed us his ass. At that moment, I did feel a bit bad for the orang utans... there they are, trying to live their lives as normal as they possibly can, and here we are busy watching them eat, as though it's some sort of freak show. I know for a fact that I'd hate having strangers take my picture while I'm eating!
The video above shows the oldest female, it's not very clear because it was taken with a normal digital camera and I needed to do a lot of zooming. Besides, this is my first attempt at posting a self made video (it's only a few seconds, though)
* for instance the librarian in the library of the unseen university