It all started with two men from Australia who wanted to make a difference in the lives of orangutans. After learning about the dangers these great apes face, Garry Sundin and Peter Miller founded Orangutan Odysseys in an effort to save the environment and orangutans through tourism.
Orangutan Odysseys, a travel company providing adventure and educational tours in Indonesia and parts of Malaysia, is on a mission to save the lives of orangutans and to protect the habitats in which they live. These tours are unforgettable journeys that support orangutan care centers throughout southeast Asia and are every day fulfilling the promise Garry and Peter envisioned.
Most of our experience with wild animals comes from the zoo. Watching animals helps children and adults learn about the creatures that share the planet with humans, but this also creates a disconnect when it comes to the ape family. You may associate monkeys, gorillas and orangutans with other beasts like hippos or lions, but apes have more in common with humans than their neighbors at the zoo. The orange orangutans with silly faces provide entertainment, but they are not very different from humans and share most of the same DNA. Orangutans in Borneo and Indonesia are clever, friendly, humorous, and compassionate like humans. Besides looks, the biggest difference between orangutans and humans is that humans are not going extinct.
Many animals develop relationships with members of their kind because of survival instincts, but humans can be more discerning and pick people who they get along with. Orangutans have a mix of animal instinct and human sensibilities and do not become close to others because of danger or mating drives. Orangutans in habitats become friends and form lifetime bonds. They support each other and have relationships similar to the ones best friends share.
People can speak and drive cars, but apes communicate in their own way and have no use for such transportation. Despite cultural differences, humans and orangutans learn the same way. Studies have shown that orangutans pass down information and teach youngsters just like people. While humans and apes do not impart the same lessons to newer generations, both learn and grow the same way.
Orangutans get laughs for using towels or handling tools, but many behaviors that we enjoy actually show how intelligent orangutans are. These apes are smarter than gorillas or chimpanzees and show this by fishing with sticks, crafting umbrellas to avoid rain and eating plants with medicinal purposes. Despite their looks, orangutans are intelligent enough to cure their own headaches and solve other problems while appearing funny and endearing to humankind.
Orangutans know how to help each other when in trouble and can show emotions just like people. They experience happiness and sadness and try to look out for others of their kind, humans and other creatures. Orangutans would not be great pets because they are wild animals, but in the right setting they show as much generosity and understanding as humans.
Protecting orangutans in Borneo and Indonesia is not done just to save an endangered species. People who help orangutans know that these animals are also special because of the connections they share with humans.
“Saving the environment through tourism,” Orangutan Odysseys provides once-in-a-lifetime adventures, offering travelers an opportunity to directly help orangutans in their struggle to survive. And at the same time, bringing a little more humanity to humans.
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