La Tela di Carlotta
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Orang-utans at Bukit Merah Island

Feb 14, 2020

We avoid zoos, but always support rehabilitation centres for endangered species.

The difference? A zoo (buys and) keeps animals in a cage for the rest of their life; sometimes they donate to foundations, but the aim of the zoo is always to make money, it’s a (private) business.

A rehab centre rehabilitates orphan, confiscated or wounded animals with the aim of releasing them back into the wilderness and give the endangered species a chance to repopulate.

Although animals are still in fenced areas, these centres can make the difference between a species going extinct or not. Today we visited Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island, an hour from Penang on Malaysia mainland, to observe orangoutangs and learn the rehabilitating process.

Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island

It takes about an hour from Penang to come here, and we took a grab. We figured we’d call a taxi to get back, but our driver offered to wait for us and take us back (always worth asking!).

Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation is… on an island. Here, they rehabilitate Oranguntans to then take them back to Borneo, to live in the wilderness.

At the time of our visit, there are about 16 orangutans: the youngest is 2 year old Manu and the oldest, the king, is 35 year old BJ. 8 orangutans were recently transferred back into Borneo.

They have only one baby (or twins) and the intervals between babies can be as long as 10 years (which means their population takes a long time to recover from a decline).

When the orangutans are ready (8-10yo) they’ll take them to the island that you we see in the distance from the centre. Here they’ll live for about two years with no human contact: they have to prove they can survive on their own before heading to Borneo.

In the centre they rely mostly on humans for their survival. They learnt to stretch their their arms up towards the sky when they want food, so the passage to the human-free island is very important for their survival in the wilderness.

The centre is relatively small, and I was expecting the orang-utans to have more space: in fact, I was expecting them to have the whole island as visitors go through a "caged tunnel" to see them (the whole point is that we are in a cage, not them!). We were disappointed to see that they're anyway in cages — big ones, but still fenced in — which we didn't like.

Even so, this is not a zoo: the orang-utans are free to interact IF they want, and the cages are big enough for them to hide if they want peace. You'll see orang-utans for sure, but probably not all of them and maybe not close: for example, we only saw the hair of the king, because he didn't want to come down from the tree.

Even though we were a bit disappointed, the visit felt right and we do believe they do important work here: there are about 50,000-65,000 orangutans left in the wild (world wide!), and 2,000 to 3,000 are killed every year because of hunting, pet trade, loss of habitat through deforestation and palm oil plantations.

Centres like these need our support.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
An example of how I practice empathy with my kids
How I show empathy to my children
Happy 4th birthday, Emily
Montessori New Year's tradition
Montessori Peace table
Audiobooks of real-life stories for kids
10k on Instagram!
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.


We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.


In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.


On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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In questo episodio di Educare con Calma rispondo alle vostre domande (più ripetute) sul nostro stile di vita di viaggiatori a tempo pieno: perché lo abbiamo scelto, come ci manteniamo, come permettiamo lo sviluppo sociale dei bambini e molto di più. Vi lascio anche alcuni articoli relazionati a ciò di cui parlo nell'episodio: I bambini devono uscire dalla propria zona di comfort  Vuoi un cambiamento nella tua vita? Trova la grotta! Se ti va, lasciami un commento sotto gli articoli per farmi s...


I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.