The Center for Great Apes has roots in the rain forests of Borneo, where over twenty years ago in 1984, founder Patti Ragan spent several months volunteering at a rehabilitation project for wild orangutans.

While there, her duties included tracking wild orangutans to observe behaviors for a long-term study project, and providing foster care for a group of infant orangutans. These orphans were being rehabilitated for return to their forest homes in Borneo. During this intense time of living with orangutans and gaining experience caring for orphaned infants, Patti learned to love and appreciate their quiet, gentle nature.

Wishing that someone would start a sanctuary in the U.S. for orangutans that could not be cared for at major zoos, or be returned to the wild, Patti decided to establish a nonprofit organization for that purpose.

After formally establishing the organization in 1993, it took four more years to find the perfect location for a sanctuary site – Wauchula, a small rural community in southern central Florida. Starting with 15 acres of a beautiful and tropical wooded habitat surrounded by orange groves, the sanctuary has now grown to over 100 acres and provides a home for more than 40 great apes.

Patti Ragan tells the guests of Florida Aquarium’s Evening Tide Talks, about her journey that all started with a 3 year old orangutan, Pongo and how her fight continues for these magnificent beings.

For more information on Patti Ragan or the Center for Great Apes click here