09 632 1138 info@iwh.co.nz
Planning your OE?  Welcome to International Working Holidays

Save the Orangutan Project

Malaysia hosts a wonderful sanctuary for Orangutans and you could be part of helping to save the Orangutans. 

  • In Malay orang means “person” and utan is derived from hutan, which means “forest.”  So, orangutan literally means “person of the forest.”
  • Orangutans’ arms stretch out longer than their bodies – up to 8 ft. from fingertip to fingertip in the case of very large males.
  • When on the ground, orangutans walk on all fours, using their palms or fists. Unlike the African apes, orangutans are not morphologically built to be knuckle-walkers.
  • For the first few years of his/her life, a young orangutan holds tight to his/her mother’s body as she moves through the forest canopy.
  • Like humans, orangutans have opposible thumbs. Their big toes are also opposible. Unlike humans, approximately one third of all orangutans do not have nails on their big toes.

Volunteer with these cuties

Sadly the future of Orangutans is threatened by humans who devastate their forests for palm oil and trees. 

The focus of this project is purely orangutan conservation and research. This includes enrichment, husbandry, organic planting for their food source, construction, and maintenance of the sanctuary.

The project site is located on a 35-acre island nestled within a 7000-acre freshwater lakeside. It has progressed from being a sanctuary where visitors experience first-hand awareness and education about the orangutan, to a recognised conservation facility and referral centre for the endangered Bornean orangutan.

The Orangutan Sanctuary site also plays an important role in educating locals on conservation by providing information to visitors on various aspects of primatology such as primate behaviour and its ecology; captive care and veterinary medicine; and conservation biology.

With assistance in expertise from regional primatologists and conservation biologists, the project aims to strengthen its commitment towards scientific research on the Bornean orangutan.

The Orangutan Sanctuary is geared to serve as a temporary holding facility for those orangutans rescued from illegal possession and or trade before being returned to their natural habitat, with mechanisms in place to treat, care and rehabilitate those orangutans assessed unfit for immediate return to the wild.

The Orangutan Sanctuary has become well known and worldwide interest has developed for its activities and programmes, for joint-cooperation across fields in education and research.

Aims & Objectives

The aims and objectives of this conservation project is to spread awareness about these intelligent creatures, prevent them from going extinct, conserve their habitat, provide opportunity for students to study the importance of orangutans in the food chain and in the ecosystem, to provide help and support for the injured and rescued orangutans and most importantly to preserve these species for future generations.

What you'll be doing at the Orangutan Sanctuary

  • A good level of fitness is required to participate on this project. The work is sometimes physical, the heat and humidity make this more challenging. There is a working schedule and plan setup for each participant. Please take note that you are coming to an operational rescue and rehabilitation centre, we cannot predict what may happen each day, or predict potential new orangutan arrivals or any of the current animals under the centre’s care.
  • Therefore, we ask the participants to be flexible and tolerant of potential delays or changes to the planned work as different projects may get reprioritised.
  • Patience is needed as you adjust to ‘Malaysia time’ – participants always come with huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to plough into the project, which is very cool and will positively impact the sanctuary. 
  • You simply add a helpful and necessary piece to a much larger puzzle, and you should not expect the world of animal conservation to make great strides forward in the timeframe of your project. The Malaysian approach to work is also vastly different from the Western mentality. 
  • Please remember that: You can always ask questions – there are explanations as to why each individual animal has ended up in the sanctuary, and is in its current housing. These reasons can be complex and varied, but we feel that to get the most out of your experience you should learn about some of the issues facing both conservationists and animal keepers in the developing world.
  • It is not always possible to improve the conditions for one individual animal or group of animals in a short time you are with us on the project. This is not to say we will not be working towards this end result.
  • You will be treated as a temporary staff member when with us, you will be expected to participate in any and all jobs that are required for the sanctuary’s maintenance and development. 
  • No special skills or experience is required to be a participant on this project. We generally create jobs and projects that anyone with a reasonable fitness level can help us with, as the majority of our participants do not have prior skills. It is therefore not always simple to reassign tasks and create projects to accommodate specific skills or requests, but we will certainly make use of veterinary physician / builders / carpenters / welders / mechanics etc when and where we can!
  • The work at the project site is always varied and a working schedule will be arranged for each participating group, ensuring that you will be set on a different task each day. Some work is physically demanding in the outdoors, meaning you also have to cope with the tropical elements. You should truly be prepared for anything! 

The following are some examples of the duties and how you'll help out at the Save the Orangutan Project.



  • Climbing structures for orangutan
  • Building boardwalks for easier tourist and keeper access around the centre


The rainforest is a harsh environment for the longevity of any man-made structures. Therefore, anything that we build needs regular maintenance to ensure that is does not rust/rot/get eaten by termites within a couple of years. This work is usually a lot of cleaning, painting and repairing.


You will be involved in the process of producing enrichment material for the orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance their well-being of the orangutans during this period but you will be able to get the chance to observe them from a safe distance enjoying the enrichment that have created!


  • Husbandry simply means cleaning, feeding and caring for captive animals. 
  • Everyday you will have to follow all of the rules and schedule for feeding as well as cleaning time. 
  • You will assist in farming and planting, food preparation and care of orangutan exhibition area.


The Orangutan Sanctuary is working to create a new model of responsible tourism, where the interaction with the animals are kept to an absolute minimum, yet the impact and educational value to the human participant is incredibly high.


Start and Finish Days

Mondays you arrive - Saturday is the end day each week. 



Spaces are booked on a first approved first served basis by completing our booking form and paying a deposit to secure your spot. 

  • Minimum age:18
  • Maximum age:- None
  • Criminal Record required: On Confirmation
  • Passport copy required: On Confirmation
  • Required qualification: None

What's included

  • All meals included*
  • Free tea coffee and water**
  • Accommodation - shared per room 4-8 volunteers
  • Wifi in public areas
  • Safety box
  • Lockable rooms
  • Hot showers
  • Bed linen
  • Fan and air-conditioning in rooms
  • Transfers to and from project
  • Orientation

    * Three meals during weekdays and only breakfast on the weekends.
    ** Water, coffee, tea at the accommodation.

Standard Accommodation

Accommodation is a hostel dormitory, 4 to 6 participants per room, a private room with a queen bed is also available as an upgrade if requested at time of booking. 

Western shared toilet & bathroom installed with hot water system. 

The centre is surrounded by plenty of shops, banks, atms, 7-11, supermarket and a shopping mall within 5 minutes walking distance.


Food arrangements

You will get 3 meals during weekday (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 1 meal during the weekend (breakfast). There is a local restaurant around the corner and across the road.
Malaysian food is tasty and diverse and you can expect to experience a myriad of flavours and meals during their stay. Typical dishes include wanton noodel (noodles and pork dumplings either dry or soup), nasi goreng (fried rice and vegetables) or roti canai (is a type of Indian influenced flatbread found in Malaysia. 

Breakfasts are varied and and include toast, cereals, etc. Tea, coffee and purified water is available at the house. We do not recommend that you drink water straight from the tap.



Supermarket, saloon, Laundromat, money exchange, ATM, sim card shop, and photocopy shops are all located within 1 km radius.

Fill out my online form.
We'll find you the perfect job overseas.
Copyright © 2001 - Nannies Abroad Limited trading as International Working Holidays. All rights reserved  |  Website Design by Labyrinth Solutions  |  Content Management by Contegro
International Working Holidays™, International Working Holidays Logo, Nannies Abroad™ and Nannies Abroad Logo are trade marks of Nannies Abroad Limited trading as International Working Holidays.