A fun day out? It’s a Gibbon! At the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
Gibbons are nature’s comedians, and you can enjoy them in their natural habitat at the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project.
Gibbons are amazing creatures. They’re furry, funny, acrobatic and incredibly endangered. Their habitat in south-east Asia is rapidly disappearing and their ‘cute factor’ has unfortunately made them a target for poachers and thieves, who comb the forests looking for animals to entertain the tourists.
The Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket is a haven of peace and security for gibbons that need help. Many of the animals have been rescued from some dire living conditions and are now dependent on the project for a safe area to live. A visit here provides both entertainment for you and much-needed support for these unique and precious animals.
What’s it like to visit?
The ultimate aim of the project is to release the gibbons back into the wild and the center is run accordingly. This is no western petting zoo and you can’t hug or hold the gibbons; in fact this is one of the activities that the project campaigns against. Instead there is a focus on education for the public and rehabilitation for the gibbons, reducing human contact and promoting their instinctive behavior.
The main focus of a visit to the project is a walk to view the gibbons in large cages set in their natural jungle habitat. Signage on each cage tells the distressing story of how the occupant came to the center- expect sad stories of orphans and abuse at tourist attractions. Take a while to watch them as they swing and play; an adult gibbon can move through the forest canopy at 35 miles an hour and it’s an impressive sight to see.
Volunteering at The Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
A day trip is a wonderful way to view the gibbons at a distance, but if you want to get more involved then you could consider a stint as a volunteer. This is a longer-term commitment (the initial training is two weeks alone) but you’ll get the opportunity to work in the education center, the rehabilitation center and the forest release zone. This is still not the place to come for a hands-on animal experience as the aim is to reduce their reliance on human contact, but the sense of achievement that comes from helping an animal successfully return to its natural environment is second to none.
Check out their website at gibbonproject.org for lots of information on volunteering opportunities.
Planning Your Visit
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is 30km north of Patong Beach. Take route 4029 until you see the Tesco Lotus at Yaowarat Road and turn left onto route 402. After 14 km turn right onto route 4027 at the Heroines Monument and follow the signs for Bang Pae Waterfall. The Rehabilitation Project is about 9km along the road and is well signposted. Talk to staff at Bodega Phuket if you have any questions.
Entry to the project is free but you need to pay 200 baht to enter the national park. None of this money goes to the center so feel free to grab a souvenir or two in their shop while you’re there, as this is the major source of income.
The project is open from 09:00 – 16:30 daily, except for Saturday when closing time is 15:00pm.