Francine Neago

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Francine Neago
Paris, France
Known forOrangutan conservation

Francine Neago (born 1930) is a French campaigner for orangutan conservation,[1] the founder of a wildlife sanctuary in Indonesia.[2] Ester Kerr wrote a child book based on Francine Neago manuscripts on her adventureous life with animals.[3][4]

In 2016, a public debate is taking place about the validity of Neago's claims, such as teaching an orangutan sign language and spelling and being the author of 12 books.[5]

Early life[edit]

Neago was born in Paris. She married an Indonesian man, Biroum Noerjasin, and returned with him to Surabaya.[6]


In 2006 she co-authored a 48-page book describing how an orphaned orangutan she raised in her home behaved like a human child.[3] In 2007 she set up the Bali Endangered Animal Rescue (BEAR) center in Bali.[6] She founded the wildlife sanctuary Noah and his Ark, now located 3 kilometres from Bukit Lawang, Indonesia.[2] In 2011 she travelled to Malaysia, intending to set up an orangutan language centre in Sarawak.[7][8] In 2015, she proposed that Indonesia should establish additional orangutan rehabilitation centres, since all the existing ones were full, and some orangutans made homeless by deforestation in Sumatra had to be kept in small cages. She planned to rehabilitate about 50 animals for release in the Mount Leuser National Park and the Tigapulu mountainous area, calling for support.[1]


  • Neago, Francine; Kerr, Esther (2006). A young Orangutan in a Loving Home. Uturat. ISBN 978-0-977-68190-7.[a]


In 2004, the traveller James Rickert described Neago as "one of the more interesting, inspirational, and courageous people I have ever met."[10] In 2011, The Star of Malaysia called Neago a "renowned ethnologist and primatologist".[8] The leading French daily newspaper Le Monde described Neago in January 2016 as "one of the greatest world specialists in apes and their language."[11] In February 2016, the photographer Bruno Levy published a "reportage" of 15 portraits of Neago.[12] In March 2016 (before the Causette controversy), Kaizen magazine commented that her age "had altered neither her convictions nor her battles."[13]


On 25 March 2016, Sarah Gandillot, writing in the French magazine Causette, claimed that most of the information about Neago's career and life is unverifiable or false.[14]

Neago had claimed on her curriculum vitae page on the "Noah and His Ark" website that she was a "Medical doctor from University College London England." having studied there between 1959 and 1965, that she had conducted "Research at UCLA (university of California, Los Angeles.) Twelve years study program teaching a one year old Orang utan to learn phonetic spelling, to talk and spell on a computer." between 1980 and 1992, and that she had "Helped to design and build Singapore Zoo." between 1979 and 1980.[15] Among other things, Causette claimed that Stuart Wolpert, a spokesman for UCLA, stated that "we [UCLA] could find no trace of her [Francine Neago] passage to UCLA as a teacher ... The Department of Anthropology, which could have been best able to accommodate a primatologist has no record of her".[14] A debate began on the Aider Francine (Help Francine [Neago]) Facebook page.[4] The SOS-MAWAS organisation described itself as "astonished" that Sarah Gandillot, who had been in contact with that organisation on 11 and 12 March 2016, had not contacted it prior to publishing her claims on Causette.[16] The French daily newspaper Le Figaro, citing Causette and the Facebook debate, announced on 29 March 2016 that it was suspending its appeal on Neago's behalf while the facts are ascertained.[17]


  1. ^ This is the only book published by Uturat; the company was registered to David Larson and Neago's coauthor, Esther Kerr.[9] The book contains 48 pages, including 9 black and white illustrations.


  1. ^ a b "Orangutans Need Immediate Protection". Indonesia Newsstand. 31 August 2015. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Noah and his Ark Updates. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "A young Orangutan in a Loving Home". Uturat. Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Aider Francine". Facebook. Retrieved 30 March 2016. This specific Facebook page is where the debate is taking place in public, and it is reliable insofar as it documents the opinions stated.
  5. ^ France Culture interview of Francine Neago
  6. ^ a b "Bali a safe haven for orangutans". Jakarta Post. 10 October 2007. Archived from the original on 28 March 2016.
  7. ^ AsiaOne: Language skills for orang utan. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b Fern, Ng Ai; Chan, Zora (7 August 2011). "Scientist hopes Sarawak will be centre for development of orang utan-human communication". The Star, Malaysia. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Uturat Publishing". Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  10. ^ Rickert, James (23 August 2004). "Thailand and Malaysian Borneo".
  11. ^ Rey-Lefebvre, Isabelle (28 January 2016). "Une primatologue perdue dans la jungle du SAMU social" (in French). Le Monde. Retrieved 30 March 2016. Pour rencontrer l’une des plus grandes spécialistes mondiales des singes et de leur langage, il faut se rendre dans un bâtiment plutôt sinistre du SAMU social, à Ivry-sur-Seine, dans le Val-de-Marne. L’ancienne maternité désaffectée a été reconvertie à la hâte en centre d’hébergement, et c’est là que, depuis début janvier, habite Francine Neago, 85 ans, primatologue réputée.
  12. ^ Levy, Bruno. "« Retour aux reportages Reportage : Francine Neago". Divergence-Images. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  13. ^ Firbal, Dominique (9 March 2016). "Francine Néago, une vie au service des grands singes" (in French). Kaizen Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Francine Neago, histoire d'une intoxication médiatique" (in French). Causette. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  15. ^ Neago, Francine. "Francine. The Passion of My Life. Curriculum Vitae". Noah and His Ark. Retrieved 4 April 2016. This reference is provided to enable verification of the fact that these claims were made by Neago; it is not evidence that the claims are true.
  16. ^ Dattée, Vincent. "Causette a induit des doutes" (in French). SOS-MAWAS. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  17. ^ "L'appel à l'aide de la primatologue Francine Néago, recueillie par le Samu Social". Le Figaro. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.

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