|Abdul Rahman H M (2001) Visitor profile and satisfaction survey at
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak, Malaysia, Hornbill
VISITOR PROFILE AND SATISFACTION SURVEY AT SEMENGGOH
WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTRE, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA
ABDUL RAHMAN HJ. MANSOR1
The primary purpose of the Semenggoh Wildlife
Rehabilitation Centre is to enable captive animals to return to the
forest and become ‘semi-wild’. The Centre is popular with tourists,
and receives about 2500 visitors per month. However, a number of letters
of complaint have been received about the conditions at the Centre, all
from Western visitors.
A survey was carried out to get a more general
picture of the level of satisfaction of Western visitors with the Centre
and their experience there. Over 80% of the foreign visitors came to see
orang utan, and the level of satisfaction with the experience of seeing
the semi-wild orang utan in the forest was high, but they expressed
dissatisfaction when they saw small cages and captive animals.
A new feeding platform has been constructed outside
the Centre, and visitors should be encouraged to go there rather than
inside the Centre.
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is located
12 miles from Kuching inside Semenggoh Nature Reserve, 653 hectares of
evergreen tropical dipterocarp forest. It opened in 1971 as a
Rehabilitation Centre for orang utan and gibbon.
The Centre is well known for its semi-wild orang utan
population. Currently there are seventeen orang utan living in the
Nature Reserve, including five infants – all born at the Centre –
still with their mothers. Although all are quite capable of looking for
their own food in the forest, supplementary food is offered on a feeding
platform twice daily, and some animals usually come to feed. Visitors
are allowed to watch the orang utan feeding at the platform and this is
a major attraction.
To date the centre has received approximately 750,000
visitor, currently about 2500 visitors per month. These visitors, with
different origins and backgrounds, have different needs and
The problems faced by the management team include
complaints from visitors about unsatisfactory facilities, which are said
to be out of date and do not fit the present expectations of visitors,
and about the animals in small cages. However, there has never been any
survey of visitor satisfaction, which makes it difficult for management
to make the right decisions on how to satisfy visitors.
The aims of this study was to collect data about
visitors’ perceptions of existing facilities and wildlife in cages, to
identify the needs and expectation of visitors coming to the Centre, and
to recommend improvements or changes to the National Park and Wildlife
Letters of complaint
All available letters of complaint sent to the government by
visitors in the past few years were reviewed and analysed.
All the letters of complaint were from Westerners, so the opinion
survey sampled only visitors of Western appearance. Self-completion
questionnaires were handed out to visitors at the exit to the Centre and
collected before they departed. The first, fifth and tenth groups to
leave the centre were interviewed (a ‘group’ could be an individual
visitor or a couple).
Letters of complaint
From the letters analysed, the writers are not very happy with the
situation of the animals when they made a visit to the centre. Specific
points made were:
- visitors that are too close to the orang utan,
- visitors taking photographs with flash,
- animal cages too small,
- stressed animals in cages without activity, and
- calling of orang-utan during feeding time.
The majority of respondents were Australians (29%), followed by
British (19%), other Europeans (39%), and North Americans (7%).
Of the 72 visitors surveyed, 59 (81%) said they came
to the Centre specifically to see orang utan and 13 (18%) to see nature
in general. Apart from the orang utan, 23 out of 59 had looked at other
animals at the Centre, 18 had ‘looked around’ and 9 had visited the
botanical garden near to the Centre. When asked which attractions they
looked at most, 53 (74%) replied orang-utan, 11 (15%) forest, animals or
nature generally. Six respondents replied "none" to this
When asked about improvements to the Centre, 61%
suggested that cages should be bigger with a better environment for
the animals, 18 wanted more information and signs, and 9 wanted the
Centre to be kept more natural.
Most of the visitors surveyed (85%) were satisfied or
highly satisfied with their experience of orang utan, but five (7%) said
they were highly dissatisfied.
Almost all the foreign visitors came to see orang
utan. The level of satisfaction with the experience was generally high,
but complaints from individuals highlighted the negative side of
allowing contact between visitor with semi-wild orang utan.
Many visitors would like to see captive animals in
bigger cages and a better environment, with good information and
This survey used a small sample of Western visitors
only. A longer and more comprehensive survey would give better results.
Visitors were very happy to see the semi-wild orang
utan and other animals but they expressed dissatisfaction when they saw
small cages and captive animals. A new feeding platform has been
constructed since the survey with a small river between the visitors and
the animals. Other information from the survey can be used to improve
visitors’ experience at the Centre and to enable the Department to
allocate appropriate funds for facilities for both animals and visitors.