Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is located within an oil palm estate about 38 kilometres from Sandakan. In the mid-1990s this 400 acre site was going to be cleared for the development of oil palm when the owner discovered that proboscis monkeys were living in the mangroves. He decided to retain this relatively small pocket of forest as a sanctuary for the monkeys. Today Labuk Bay is home to around 150 free ranging proboscis monkeys.
The habitat at Labuk Bay is fragmented with relatively small patches of mangrove forest surrounded by plantation land. As there is insufficient food the monkeys receive a supplementary diet.
This privately run sanctuary has two observation platforms. Feeding takes place at Platform A at 9.30 am and 2.30 pm and at Platform B at 11.30 am and 4.30 pm. At most feeding times groups of proboscis monkeys descend from the nearby forest and mangroves and head to the wooden platform for a free meal. The monkeys are given beans, cucumbers and pancakes.
After the feeding session the monkeys usually hang around for a while. There are normally a few groups of monkeys at the platform, both harems and bachelor groups. Sometimes squabbles break out and the alpha male might start chasing other males away.
The monkeys at the sanctuary are wild and free to roam the mangroves but they are highly habituated and often get very close to visitors. The behaviour (and diet) of these proboscis monkeys is very different from the wild monkeys that live on the Kinabatangan River and other areas of Sabah and Sarawak. Labuk Bay offers a chance to get very close to proboscis monkeys. The sanctuary also offers excellent photo opportunities.
Other animals often seen near the feeding platforms include silver-leaf monkeys and oriental pied hornbills.
The entrance fee for foreign visitors is RM 60 (adult) and RM 30 (child) whilst Malaysians pay RM 15 (adult) and RM 5 (child). There is also a camera / video fee of RM 10 per day. A restaurant that serves drinks and rice and noodle dishes is located near Platform B. There are video shows at Platform B at 10.15 am and 3.15 pm.
A shuttle bus to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary departs daily from the Sandakan Hotel at 9.30 am and the Sepilok Orangutan Centre car park at 10.30 am. The bus arrives at the sanctuary in time for the 11.30 am feeding at Platform B. The return shuttle to Sandakan departs at 3pm & 5 pm. The bus fare is RM 20 per person (one-way). Grab drivers charge around RM 100 for a return trip (including waiting) from Sandakan to the sanctuary.