Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family:    Hominidae
Size:    Height 2.6 to 5 feet (0.79 to 1.5 m)
Weight: 66 to 265 pounds (30 to 120 kg)
Diet: Mostly fruit, but also leaves, soft bark, nuts, flowers, insects, eggs and small mammals
Distribution: Borneo and Sumatra
Young:  1, once every 3 to 9 years
Animal Predators:  Clouded leopards and Sumatran tigers
IUCN Status: Critically endangered
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: Up to 50 years in the wild and up to 65 years in captivity



·         Orangutan means “man of the jungle” in Malay.

·         It is illegal to kill, own, or export orangutans.

·         Orangutans protect themselves from rain and sun with leafy branches that they hold over their head.



Orangutans have orange-red fur that is shaggy in appearance. Their legs are short and weak, but their arms and hands are strong. Their arms are also very long, reaching 87 inches (120 cm) across when outspread. Males and females are easily distinguishable from each other—not only are males much larger, but they have a bag-like skin flap hanging from the throat which allows them to make loud calls through the forest. Males also develop cheek pads that grow sideways.



Orangutans can be found in forested areas, especially in forests with fruit-bearing trees. 


Feeding Habits

Orangutans eat mostly fruit (especially figs), but also leaves, soft bark, nuts, flowers, insects, eggs and small mammals. They store fat to prepare for the heavy rains that occur from April to October, when food becomes scarce. 



A female who is ready to mate will seek out a male, and the couple will stay together for several days until the female becomes pregnant. The two then go their separate ways. Pregnancy lasts almost nine months, and occurs once every three to nine years. Mothers and infants have a warm, loving relationship and can often be seen cuddling. The infant stays close by its mother for its first two to three years, then begins to become more and more independent until it can finally go its own way at about six to eight years of age. Mother orangutans sometimes pair up with other mothers for short periods of time so their youngsters can play together.



These animals are amazingly like humans, with their high intelligence and capability for learning. Additionally, their young display affectionate natures and often desire to be hugged. Orangutans have placid, gentle natures and in captivity have shown incredible ingenuity, learning symbols to represent words as well as displaying an exceptional ability to manipulate mechanical objects. In the wild, orangutans spend most of their time in trees, using all four limbs to swing from branch to branch. Adult males spend more time walking on the ground than other orangutans because the branches of smaller trees cannot hold their weight. Older orangutans tend to be solitary, but youngsters socialize and play with each other. 



Although orangutans once lived in the jungles of Southeast Asia, they were wiped out by hunters and now live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in the lowland swamp and forests. They are an endangered species due to past excessive hunting as well as the destruction of their habitat, including large-scale logging, agriculture and the burning of forests. In 1997 and 1998, massive forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo killed thousands of orangutans and destroyed the habitat of many thousand more, further endangering their survival. 













Orangutan Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US