If yesterday was turtle day then we should christen today Orangutan day, although there were other highlights it was the orangutans which clinched the deal. It was a predictably early start, something of a theme for this holiday, back onto the boats for the reverse race back to the mainland. After having our breakfast we headed out to the orangutan sanctuary to watch them having their breakfast. The sanctuary tries to re-introduce orpahned Orangutans back into the wild, picking them up from all sorts of places but generally ex-pets. Before simply setting them free they have to be taught the skills needed to survive. It strikes me that this shouldn't take too long, after all having no natural predators all they need to do is climb a tree, eat the fruit, climb another tree, eat more fruit. Repeat. To graduate the move to surviving by themselves there are a series of feeding platforms in the jungle and we would observed the first platform where they get almost 100% of their required intake of food. Once comfortable with living in the jungle around one platform they would be taken to the next where there will be food, but less than at the previous platform thus encouraging them to forage for food themselves. The final platform, number five, is the last stop before being taken to the jungle and being told to swing it alone. Generally this reminded me of working life, just when your getting comfortable with one job someone sees fit to promote you to the next level until they either find the tipping point where you are out of your depth or you've just become the head of the company and your quite lonely all of a sudden. The Orangutans do it with a good deal less stress I'll wager. Once in place we waited for the orange fluff balls to swing down from the trees and we weren't kept waiting long. A playful pair swung down out of the jungle and entertained the crowd with a little play fighting. Play fighting while hanging from their feet that is, quite a tricky proposition of your average human but simply a day in the life of our orange cousins. Obviously the arrival of food sealed the peace agreement and soon banana skins were being shed at speed. Once finished they slowly swung back into the jungle with the same look my father used to have prior to taking an afternoon snooze on the floor after Sunday lunch - not so different after all. The scraps of food left weren't wasted as a group of monkeys arrived to fight over the remains. Lots of fighting and pushing each other off the platform, very entertaining!
Breakfast over for all of us at last we went back to the headquarters to watch a video about the work they do here. It reminded me of those Friday afternoon lectures at University, with Thursday night being a typical night to go clubbing the following day was always arduous. With a very warm room and too little sleep eye lids started to droop and in some cases gave up altogether. In an effort to shake off the lethargic feeling we went to the restaurant for a drink and a bite to eat. The monkeys also tried to join us in there until the owner chased them away. With food not quite doing the trick Eleanor and I wondered to our accommodation for a snooze before returning for the afternoon feeding session. This time there were more orangutans but less fighting. We were still mesmerised by these creatures and it will truly be the worlds loss if our impact on their environment wipes them out.
Once we ha waved goodbye to our hairy friends Maggie, Mike, Mel, Wesley, Eleanor and I jumped into a taxis and headed off for the Proboscis sanctuary. This is a private sanctuary and as such was expensive, 50 ringets, but well worth it in the end. When we arrived we were handed a handful of green shoots and I had just about started to eat one when I realised we weer meant to be feeding the little monkeys that had gathered around the main building. They were keen to get hold of them and several shoots were snatched from unsuspecting hands as people walked around. Cute as these animals certainly were they weren't what we we hoping to see and we settle down to looking into the jungle while food was placed a series of platforms. Proboscis monkeys have the most splendidly silly noses and we can only thank evolution for such quirks to keep us entertained. Several gangs of Proboscis monkeys soon arrived and to kill time the head male started copulating with the favoured female of the day. Someone commented that it was all over fast but I thought that his 30 seconds would make it near the top of my leader board of personal performances. While feeding it all seemed quite calm until the smaller monkeys started to try to steal tit-bits from the platforms which the Proboscis monkeys obviously felt was theirs and chased them off. Feeding over we were treated to an entertaining interaction between mother and child. With mother monkey sat on a branch, child monkey thought it would be a wheeze to use her tail to swing on Tarzan style. Being a patient mother this went on for a while until, inevitably, patience broke and child was slapped off. With feeding done the monkeys started to drift off into the jungle, mirrored by the tourists started to leave as well. We stayed on and the owner of the sanctuary put some banana out to tempt a Hornbill out of the trees. After a little waiting one came down to snatch the banana away, giving us a very close up view - fantastic! The rest of the day was a little tired and we headed back to our hotel for a BBQ and much needed sleep.