Skip to main content
Arnold Ibri 04 2019 3


Orangutan rehabilitation

Rescued orangutans at Sepilok undergo a 5-step rehabilitation programme to increase their chances of returning to the wild.

A young unwell orangutan lying with towels around him on top of a metal vet table with plastic tubes going to his nose.
Rescue of orangutan
  • Step 1


    On arrival the orangutans undergo a thorough health check and are quarantined for 3 months. Tiny babies have 1-1 care from a vet nurse who acts as a surrogate mother. Slowly they are introduced to other orangutans who are at the same stage for ‘play sessions’.

  • Step 2

    Indoor nursery

    The babies are taken to the indoor nursery where they are still under very close care. This is their ‘Outdoor confidence building’ stage. They are taught to climb, nest-build and are encouraged to forage for food by the carers and older orangutans.

  • Step 3

    Outdoor nursery

    The orangutans are transferred to the outdoor nursery. They continue to develop their climbing and foraging skills. They're also monitored for signs of becoming self-sufficient and ready for release.

  • Step 4

    Soft release

    The orangutan is brought further into the rainforest for ‘soft release’. They spend 3 days acclimatising to their new surroundings and are slowly introduced to other orangutans who frequent the site. Here we provide supplementary food which is kept very basic to encourage foraging.

  • Step 5


    Orangutans that show no sign of wanting or needing human support and pass a final health check, are taken deeper into the Kabili Reserve to start their new lives as independent, wild orangutans.

Explore more articles

  • Photo of female orangutan


    Orangutan facts

    Orangutans are one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom sharing almost 97% DNA!

  • Infant orangutan in a tree


    Research roundup ⭐

    Staying up to date on the latest research and ongoing efforts to protect and preserve the orangutan and its habitat. New resources will be added to this page regularly.