KUCHING: More than 400 people comprising local and foreign tourists attended a double-celebration held at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (SWC) here today.
Apart from the Malaysia Day celebration, the centre also threw a birthday bash for a one-year-old male baby orang utan on the same day.
Born on Sept 16 last year, Mas, named after the three letter abbreviation code for Malaysia, is the youngest orang utan at the centre.
The highlight of the day included the cake cutting ceremony by orang utan adopters.
SWC manager Chong Jiew Han said he was overwhelmed by the turnout this morning.
“During normal days, most of the visitors who came to the centre are foreigners. Today, however, we see a balance between local and foreign tourists,” said Chong, when met at the centre.
As of noon, Chong said SWC received application from 60 people who wanted to adopt Mas and other orang utans at the centre.
“This is a good start and we hope to reach our target of 100 adopters by the end of the day,” he said.
Among the adopters was Nur Mahirah Mohamad Khir from Kuala Lumpur.
The 30-year-old accountant said she came all the way from her hometown to join the event and adopt Mas.
“In fact, Mas is the second orang utan I had adopted from the centre. Four years ago, I had adopted Annuar, who is now 19, via online application.
“I had also adopted two other orang utans from a wildlife centre in Kalimantan few years ago.” she said.
Mahirah, who was in the city since yesterday, said she loves orang utan and described her adoption as a small bid to protect the animal from extinction.
Although visitors were unable to meet Mas in person, they were given a glimpse of Ritchie - one of the first generation of orang utans, which had been staying at the centre since 1989.
The 36-year-old alpha was rescued by a former New Straits Times correspondent James Ritchie and been named after the veteran newsman.
To date, there are 28 orang utans, comprising 15 males and 13 females, at the centre.