Rival Group Claims “Johor Bigfoot” Are Escaped Orangutans

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 14th, 2006

On February 18, 2006, I wrote a Cryptomundo blog entitled, “Are Malaysian Bigfoot Colonies Really Orangutans?”.

Today, May 14, 2006, somewhat symbolically perhaps, a rival group to Dr. Vincent Chow’s research team is announcing they feel they have the ultimate theory that the Malaysian Bigfoot are nothing more than known orangutans.

Please click and see here for images supporting the text below.

Has the discussion of the photographs taken of the “Bigfoot” in Johor revealed anything about these “Mawas” sightings?

In February, I wondered aloud then if the Johor Wildlife Protection Society was merely talking about orangutans when discussing these “Johor Mawas” or “Bigfoot.”

The Johor Wildlife Protection Society was saying they had:

scientific evidence to prove the existence of Bigfoot whose reported sightings recently in the Johor jungles have excited the world’s media. Not just one Bigfoot but a whole colony of the giant, hairy creatures which the society named “Orang Lenggor” (Lenggor People) as one was spotted in an area by that name.

The Johor Wildlife Protection Society claimed in February:

The adult creatures are between 10 and 12 feet tall while their children are 6 to 7 footers. Seventy per cent of the Orang Lenggor have a human appearance but the rest resemble apes…They like to eat fish and fruits they gather in the jungles, including durian. They also have a liking for river water that contains dissolved salt and would walk for miles to get it.

I wrote that I thought a key here is the mention of durian, the favorite fruit of an ape we already know a lot about. Was the society talking about orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), a species that currently inhabits only the islands of Sumatra and Borneo?

Now a Cryptomundo commentor, Angelina Penang of the Asia Paranormal Investigations (API) passes along their theory, on behalf of their group, that they allegedly have solved the mystery. Speaking on behalf of API and its founder Charles Goh, Ms. Penang writes Cryptomundo on May 14th:

We have discovered some facts that seem to indicate that this colony of mawas (Orang Lenggor) may actually be the descendents of a colony of orangutans (mawas) released by the late Sultan of Johor into the Johor jungles some 30 years ago.

It is well known that in the late 1960s, the then Sultan Ismail kept 40 Orangutans of which some were given away, while the rest are believed to be released into Johor forest.

In 1968, 4 Orangutans were given to Perth Zoo from this collection of the colony of Sultan Ismail. They are Pop (male), Puan, Mawas and Binte (3 females). Puan was the founder of the zoo’s present colony; she has produced 11 offspring (the last at the age of 40), and is now one of the oldest known members of her species. She is now 53 years old – which made her 15 at the time she was given away by the late Sultan.

I found it remarkably similar to the colony of hominoids found by the logger.


When the colony was first detected in the jungles of Johor in the 70s, there were only 15 members, the source said, adding that two members are believed to have died or got separated from the group and set up their own colonies or groups.

The source said the older members of the Bigfoot then were in their 20s, adding that it was believed that Bigfoot there were now in their 50s to 60s. (Puan was 20’s in the 70s, and now in her 50’s) Over the years, the source said, their number grew to about 40, made up of three families.

“The 40 comprised adults and young ones, as well as males and females,” the source said.

The curator of the Malaysia National Zoo with 40 years experience also thinks likely the possibility of these mawas released into the jungles are surviving and breeding as conditions are not too different between Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo / Sumatra. (Peninsular Malaysia is not known to have mawas, only Sumatra and Borneo has) He said that a big sized mawas weighing more than 100 kgs can account for the big footprints found recently also. (He said that the mawas in his zoo is 37 years old, almost 2m tall (?) and weigh 120 kgs.

(Please see here for images supporting her text.)

I think you will be surprised by their “hominoid” likeness. I am not surprised if they turn out to be the true face of the Johor Mawas when the books’ photos are revealed.

This is the end of the API statement.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

15 Responses to “Rival Group Claims “Johor Bigfoot” Are Escaped Orangutans”

  1. Sharm responds:

    I read the article in API website before regarding the Johor Bigfoot. The conducted their own research and from their findings, I think they have a good case here.

    One thing though, do orangutans walk upright most of the time?

    Oh well, I’ll wait for the photos to be relased 🙂

  2. jjames1 responds:

    The sketches from Peter Loh bear no resemblance to orangutans. If these alleged photos really *are* of orangs, then Chow must be doing a pretty bad job of describing them to Loh.

    Honestly, though, if the mawas are orangs and there are more than 10 photos of these creatures, how could anyone not realize what was in the pictures? I could maybe see misidentifying a creature based on one or two pictures, but more than 10? The photos would have to be of unbelievably bad quality.

    This whole story continues to get murkier and murkier…I’m awaiting Chow’s response to this.

  3. scmarlowe responds:

    It wouldn’t be the first time an orangutan was mistaken for a Bigfoot — we’ve had a similar occurance here in Florida.

  4. One Eyed Cat responds:

    Well, we will see whos’s right – if anyone when ever the book is published – yeah I understand that may be a big if too.

  5. twblack responds:

    Never thought a Orang could be mistook for a BF. Has their ever been 9-12 ft orang that only walked upright??? I would think Mr. Chow would know the diff. even in a photo. But as always we will have to wait on the book for the photos and then we all can give our 2 cents on the subject of what they may have. I have a feeling that their will be a lot more reported and written on this subject before the book comes out. And one other thing just because they may like to eat the same thing does not mean much in my view as to what they may be Orangs or BF.

  6. jjames1 responds:

    Hey, Loren, can you clarify something for us, please? The last sentence of this entry says “Check back for photos and Dr. Chow’s response that will be forthcoming in the book.”

    Does that mean that later today (or whenever the update is posted), you’ll be including an excerpt from the book? And I’m assuming the photos to which you’re referring are of the orangs, and not the alleged Mawas? Thanks!

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    1) Later today the orangutan photos will be uploaded.

    2) Later in this lifetime, Dr. Chow will respond to the API’s theory, obviously, in his forthcoming book. He is not interested in engaging in a blogsphere or media-driven debate with them.

    A theory is only a theory, but the API’s theory does not explain the reports of large, tall, apparently upright hominoids. I thought perhaps two groups of primates being seen were being confused. Needless to say, bipedal orangutans do not exist, as far as known in zoology.

    This latest bit of news clarifies that there are great divisions in theories and organizations in Malaysia, between Chow, SPI, API, the government, media spokespeople, and other wildlife organizations. Malaysia seems as diverse as North America, in terms of groups and Bigfoot camps.

  8. Peter Loh responds:

    Ermmm…some humans love durians too. How do we explain that?

    I had a strange thought earlier. Look at a still of Patty’s face. She almost possessed all the features that Chow described except for facial hair and the nose. Now, look at a Westerner and an Asian… what are some common obvious differences? Westerners tend to have more facial hair and sharper noses while the opposite is true of Asians (many Asians have upturned noses). Is there therefore a link here? Does the Bigfoot of the West also differ from that of the East in similar ways?

  9. Chymo responds:

    Interesting. If this is true, then I have a direct connection with these Lenggor: I have worked with the Orang colony at Perth zoo.

  10. cor2879 responds:

    The biggest problem with this theory is that Mawas are said to be 9-12 feet tall… Orangs typically don’t get much taller than an average human I wouldn’t think. Also do the Johor Bigfoot footprint casts match up with those of an Orangutan?

  11. CryptoJoe responds:

    I now guarantee the neither party will ever have any photos to provide to the public.

  12. fuzzy responds:

    “Cryptozoological research should be actuated by two major forces: patience and passion.”
    ~ Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans, Cryptozoology, Volume 7, 1988.

  13. sharmcos responds:

    If the Bigfoots were really orangutans released by the Sultan, that doesn’t explained sightings prior to that release date. Furthermore, the creature has been in the Aborigine’s tradition for ages, not since the late 1960s. If I’m not mistaken, there were reports of sightings in the 1800s too.

    I remember, in mid 1980s when the media reported sightings of this Hantu Jarang Gigi, my late father told me about loggers in the neighbouring state of Pahang who tried to capture this creature in the 1960s. One logger was punched by the creature so strong that he fell a few feets away. Is orangutan that strong? By the way, I don’t think the loggers would bother catching the creature if it was an orangutan…

  14. Fyre responds:

    The sightings actually go back farther than that, as many of the local groups in SE Asia have traditional stories about big hairy wildmen living in the depths of the forests.

    I think the API report is a good piece of research, and they do make several strong points. However, I would argue that as sharmcos says, the sightings pre-date the release of these orangs, and since these orangs are from Indonesian populations, they would not be bipedal. So the Malaysian apes aren’t orangs unless they’ve been separated from the island populations long enough for significant differences to occur.

  15. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Adult male orangutans, from what I gather, are usually about 1.5 meters (less than 5 feet tall). Two meters (over 6 feet) as reported for the one orang in the zoo, would be a VERY big orangutan. Ten to 12 feet, as reported for the Johor Mawas troop, would be an insanely large ape.

    Also, while reports describe a “troop” living together, the orangutan is usually seen as a solitary/teritorial creature.
    I’m not saying this may not be some new group of Pongo, but I am saying it doesn’t sound like cute little Clyde from “Any which way but loose.”

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