About the Appeal
Founded in 2000, Orangutan Appeal UK has grown rapidly from just a commitment to help, to have been awarded official charity status.
Orangutan Appeal UK works tirelessly to help the endangered orangutan. We are dedicated to providing a sustainable future for the species through rehabilitation and conservation of their rainforest habitat; and by raising awareness of the plight of this great ape across the world. The Appeal identifies specific needs and then adopts them as projects. Each project is funded and managed by the Appeal with goods, services and labour sourced locally wherever possible
Sue Sheward MBE the Appeal’s Chairwoman and Founder, became involved with the plight of the orangutans in Borneo while on holiday there. Having seen the work of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre initially as a tourist, and then having shown great interest, she was allowed further access and more information about the project and returned to the UK with the conviction that she would do something to help.
Sue got straight to work on her return from Borneo raising money from raffles, jumble sales and a charity racing car track day. Sue tirelessly dug at the pockets of countless people, and thanks to their generosity, managed to raise enough money to fund her first project.
After delicate negotiations with the Malaysian Government, the project was approved, and, we are proud to be the first Non Government Organisation (NGO) to have been accepted by them.
With her first project well and truly under her belt, and interest in the Appeal growing fast, plans were started for the next “project” and the journey began.
You can read all about the work of the Appeal so far on our projects pages.
Click here to read read our story so far
It was 1986 when Sue had her first encounter with an orangutan at the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey, and she was absolutely captivated. Watching how an orangutan mother was nursing her baby, whilst dad watched on was just like a lazy afternoon in a human home. There and then Sue decided she wanted to find out more about these amazing animals, which is where her life-changing journey began.
Over the following years Sue spent a great deal of time following the work being done to save this amazing species. In 2000 she had the opportunity to travel abroad with a friend who gave her the choice of destination. On opening a travel magazine her eyes immediately fell on the faces of two young orangutans which had been pictured in Borneo. The decision was made and flights were book to Kota Kinabalu. Sue then decided to approach the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) to see if she could volunteer for them. This was one of the first requests for volunteering they had ever received and were so understandably were at first reticent to reply but finally they agreed. Her encounter with the orangutans at SORC marked the moment she decided to dedicate her life to protecting the species.
When Sue arrived she realised how much help the centre needed. It was a very small operation with only one house, a vet and one ranger. The orangutans were shut in tiny cages with no space to move or play. They couldn't learn to climb or swing. The local government simply didn't have enough money to do anything more. After a long conversation with the centre's vet, Sue returned to the UK determined to raise enough money to build an exercise enclosure for the babies. She started a tireless campaign of fundraising, including car boot sales and raffles, all the time negotiating permission from the Sabah state government to be allowed to assist. Nine months later she achieved her fundraising goal and was given permission by the Director of Sabah Wildlife Department to return to Sepilok and build the enclosure.
Within a week of arriving back in Borneo the enclosure had been built and the baby orangutans went crazy when they finally got to play and swing. Sue didn't want to stop there so founded the charity Orangutan Appeal UK.
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