The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
in Phuket is an excellent way to see Thailand's amazing, adorable gibbons without causing them any more harm or suffering than they've already been through. The project, part of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand, was started to help rehabilitate gibbons who'd been taken from the wild and sold as pets or for entertainment. The project currently oversees gibbons at various stages of rehabilitation, from initial testing and acclimation to reintroduction into the wild.
Gibbons were hunted to extinction in Phuket more than three decades ago and there are few remaining wild gibbons anywhere in the country. The gibbons that end up in Thailand's bars, restaurants and resorts have typically been illegally poached from this dwindling population to be used as money-making props.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project employs a zero to limited-contact philosophy whereby gibbons are taught from the beginning not to rely on humans for food or comfort so they are better equipped to live on their own in the wild.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is in Phuket, about 20 minutes from the airport, in a small forest enclosure completely surrounded by villages and development. You can visit the center and see some of the gibbons in midst of the rehabilitation process.
What Else Can You Do:
Visitors sticking around Thailand for more than a couple of weeks can also volunteer at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. Volunteers perform all sorts of tasks, from food prep to data collection, depending on the needs of the center at any given time. Accepted volunteers are provided with basic living quarters for the duration of their stay.