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24 - Life in the Land of the Gibbons
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24 - Life in the Land of the Gibbons

Episode Summary

In the heart of the Indonesia’s Borneo rainforest, Aurélien Brulé, alias Chanee, devotes himself to protecting and freeing the gibbons, small tree-dwelling monkeys threatened with extinction.


chaneeSince childhood, Aurélien Brulé has had a greater passion for animals than for his own studies. When he was just 13, he was hired at a zoo in France, where he devoted his time to meticulous observation of primates, for him an endless source of fascination. He grew fond of the white-handed gibbon, a small tree-dwelling monkey threatened with extinction.

Despite his youth, Aurélien had a dream: finance and build a centre for the rescue and rehabilitation of the gibbons. This dream ultimately came true on the island of Borneo, Indonesia, where forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Chanee is concerned not only for the fate of the gibbons, but also for the local population, some of whom are losing their means of subsistence.

Aurélien and his team take in not only wounded wild monkeys, but also domesticated monkeys kept in terrible conditions. In Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park, where he opened his first sanctuary, Brulé achieved tremendous results and did a monumental job in helping these animals survive. With the massive influx of gibbons in distress, he opened a second sanctuary and a veterinary clinic. Over 240 gibbons are now lifetime residents at the sanctuary. Wounded monkeys are kept in an enormous aviary while waiting to be returned to the wild. Here they relearn to feed themselves and socialize with other monkeys. Couples form, and little by little, the team reduces human contact up to the day they return to the wild.

gibbonBrulé and his team continue the work of raising awareness of the fate of the gibbons through a radio station that the association created: Kalaweit FM. All these initiatives have made Kalaweit currently the largest gibbon rehabilitation program in the world. But victory is still a long way off for Chanee. “I dream of the day when man learns to love life, all of life, and when Kalaweit no longer has a purpose,” he says. Aurélien Brulé accomplishes this daily struggle on the ground, where he lives with his wife and young son, respecting Dayak tradition, animals and the surrounding wilderness.

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In the remote rainforests of Asia, human activity has caught up with the gibbons.
Kalaweit Project
The Kalaweit Project involves an ambitious rehabilitation program for the gibbons of Indonesia.
Aurélien Brulé
At age 18, Aurélien Brûlé went to Indonesia to establish a sanctuary for gibbons.
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