We hired a tour guide to take us to Semengogg Orangutan Sanctuary and Jongs Crocodile farm for the day. He was a lovely guy, really knowledgeable about the area and told us all kinds of things that we hadn’t known before, like how everyone thinks Kuching is named after cats- even down to there being loads of cat statues throughout the city- but in fact it’s names after a Chinese words that sounds like Kuching, and the pronunciation and spelling has changed over the years.
He took us to Semengogg first, but warned us although we were going to arrive for feeding time, the animals are essentially free to roam around the huge sanctuary, so seeing them is not a certainty. He mentioned that he had taken the American Ambassadors wife there four days in a row and only in the last 15 minutes on the last day did she see 1 orangutan.
We walked down from the entrance, not really knowing what to expect and a little troubled by the rules- no pointing umbrellas or tripods as the Orangutans will think they are guns, no smoking, as one of the Orangutans was a smoker when he was in captivity, to keep a fair distance, as there are some that they have no control over and if they get upset… well..
So these Orangutans are rescued/bought from lives of captivity, mainly from Indonesia. They are used as tourist attractions or as pets until they get too big to be controlled. We saw a mother and baby as soon as we entered the first feeding area which was amazing, they were just hanging out (literally), eating some coconuts, and the baby was swinging around. It’s amazing the dexterity the baby had.
We walked a little further and saw another 4 Orangutans swinging through the trees to the platform where they were being fed. It was wonderful, but, in the middle of the jungle, even at 9am, it was extremely humid! We were both sweating buckets! After about 20 minutes we went back to the original feeding platform to see the dominant male very very close to the road.
We turned our back to walk towards another one about 20 minutes away when we got a pretty sharp warning to move, as “no-one can control that one”, we looked behind to see the dominant male about 3 metres behind us! It was really amazing and definitely worth it to go see them.
It was only as we were leaving that our guide chose to show us the photos of all the injuries of the people who work there!! A little scary! He said that almost 100% of the injuries were due to tourists doing something silly or against the rules.
Next we were off to Jongs Crocodile farm, which was a wholly different experience.
We enter, and our guide comes in and shows us a room full of pictures on the wall of small children being cut out of Crocodiles after they had been taken. Apparently it is a pretty big problem, but only in a few very select areas in Malaysia. Either way it was very very graphic and surprising.
We went on to see a bunch of crocodiles and small animals, monkeys etc, and I admit that I am a softy but it was so run down, the animals seemed to be in tiny dirty cages and it just made me so sad. Sad enough that I kept on apologizing to each animal, and then to Ryan for doing that.
We went and saw the main event, which was the crocodiles being fed, which was actually really great, these crocs seems to have loads of space and were looked after pretty well and it was amazing to see the power they had to jump out of the water.
We also saw the biggest freshwater fish in the world ( GIANTS!)
We continued on down a long path which seemed deserted, there were crocodiles on every side of the very jenky walkway only about 2 metres down, we saw a small enclosure with a sad bleating goat in it ( food?!), there was some bird shrieking above us in the jungle, we heard a gunshot.. which was when we debated continuing… was this the part in the movie when the silly tourists got eaten!?
We continued nevertheless, but the more we saw the more we wanted to leave. I looked it up, and they have been in trouble with PETA before, although it doesn’t seem (to us) that they have done much that they promised to do. There were also some crocodiles there that has terrorized villages on the island, so it was probably better they were locked up… Hopefully some things will change, and in the meantime, the crocodile in the feeding swamp were amazing to see. Such amazing creatures.