Bornean Orangutans photo via WWF

Bornean Orangutans, photo via WWF


Bornean & Sumatran Orangutans


SPECIES:  Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) & Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

CURRENT RANGE:  Sumatra (Indonesia) & Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia)

CURRENT THREATS:  Deforestation, poaching

CONSERVATION STATUS:  Critically Endangered (Sumatran) and Endangered (Bornean)

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM:  All over Malaysia and Indonesia, in the wild or at a rehabilitation center.


What are they?

The word “orangutan” means “man of the forest” in the Malay language… which makes sense when you consider that orangutans share 96.4% of our genes. They have grasping hands at the end of long arms, which allows them to swing through trees from branch to branch. They can grow to be between 1.25 and 1.5 metres tall; females weigh in at 30-50kg, and males at 50-90kg. We can easily identify orangutans by their red hair, but another distinguishing physical feature in males can be specified as “flanged” or “unflanged.”  The flanged males have prominent cheek pads and a throat sack for long calls, whereas the unflanged orangutans do not have such features. They eat wild fruits such as lychees, mangosteens, and figs, and extract water from holes in trees by slurping it up.

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Tilikum, the Killer Whale from the Blackfish Documentary

Tilikum, the Killer Whale Responsible for Trainer Dawn Brancheau’s Death

Blackfish Documentary Director

Gabriela Cowperthwaite Takes On Sea World


In February of 2010, during a moment of post-show bonding, a killer whale at Sea World in Orlando suddenly grabbed his trainer by the ponytail, pulled her underwater, and shook her violently. The trainer, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau– literally the poster girl for the theme park– was pronounced dead on the scene. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the Blackfish documentary, had a simple question: Why?


Inspired in part by The Killer in the Pool, an in-depth expose written by Tom Zimmerman for Outside magazine, Cowperthwaite delved deeper into the murky world of captive cetacean facilities. Former Sea World trainers came out of the woodwork to talk to her for Blackfish, in large part to refute much of the misinformation about the tragic incident being spread by Sea World’s PR people.


Doing for whales what The Cove did for dolphins, Blackfish examines how whales were historically captured for facilities such as Sea World, explains why these remarkably intelligent creatures are especially ill-suited for captivity, and shines a harsh spotlight on an entire industry that uses animals for human entertainment. In the end, the film suggests that it’s not Tilikum who is to blame for Dawn Brancheau’s death, but Sea World itself (and its customers, by proxy).


There’s been a lot of controversy swirling around the documentary, with Sea World and the filmmakers (including Zimmerman, who served as an associate producer) each firing off press releases accusing the other of lying. So we were excited to get a chance to speak with Cowperthwaite about her undeniably disturbing film.

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Sunrise Over Moorea, Tahiti

Sunrise Over Moorea

Photos of Moorea 4×4 Safari Tour


We tend to seek out ecotourism adventures wherever we travel. But such is the mystical allure of Tahiti that even we were tempted to simply hang out in our luxurious over-water bungalow at the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and embrace the R&R approach to paradise.


It would’ve been easy, given that the resort’s waters were a marine sanctuary, with myriad coral, fish and spotted rays all around us. But our insatiable curiosity ultimately got the better of us, and I think these photos of Moorea show why leaving the comfort of your hotel and exploring the island’s interior via a 4×4 Safari Tour will help you to better appreciate the beauty of the people and landscapes of Tahiti.

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My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam

My Son Sanctuary, photo by AJ Oswald via Creative Commons

10 Ancient Archaeological Sites

For Your World Travel Bucket List


Typically, when ancient archaeological sites get some form of development, it’s a benefit.  With development comes better controlled access and funds for excavation, preservation and restoration. But it also means a lot more visitors.  There’s nothing more satisfying than arriving at an ancient treasure to find few, if any other visitors there.  For that sort of exclusive experience, you have to go the extra mile.  Here are ten off-the-beaten-path archaeological sites you should consider adding to your World Travel Bucket List.

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Rio Secreto Underground River, Cancun

One of Rio Secreto’s Many Dazzling Caves

Exploring Rio Secreto

The Riviera Maya’s Amazing Underground River


Caves have held a strange, primordial allure over me ever since I first read about Tom Sawyer’s adventures in Mark Twain’s classic novel as a boy.


From the cliffs of Petra to the Milodon Caves of Patagonia, exploring them has always made me feel like I was part-caveman, part-astronaut, venturing into places both ancient and unknown. But never has this mixture of fascination and trepidation been more acute than it was during our tour of Rio Secreto, an incredible underground nature reserve on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

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Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica Without Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba