Orangutans

Pongo abelii and Pongo pygmaeus

Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are Asia's only great apes. The two species have been isolated from each other for more than one million years and live nowhere except their namesake islands in Southeast Asia. They prefer lowland or hilly tropical rainforest habitats. "Orangutan" comes from the Malay orang meaning man, and hutan meaning wilderness or jungle.

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Orangutan behavior and facts

  • Orangutans eat eggs, fruit, insects, leaves, small invertebrates and young shoots.
  • They are diurnal (active during the day), solitary, and arboreal, almost exclusively living in the trees. They build nests in trees for sleeping.
  • An orangutan's hair is shaggy and red; feet and hands are similar and used for grasping; long arms are adapted to brachiation (swinging from limb to limb).
  • Males have dark face flanges or pads (also called flaps) used in dominance displays.
  • Orangutans are highly intelligent, with large brains.
  • Males have pendulous (hanging) laryngeal sacs that create resonating chambers for loud calls that can be heard up to a mile away. The calls may repel male rivals and advertise a male's availability for mating.

From birth to death

  • Birth interval: 7 to 8 years
  • Gestation: 232 to 265 days (7.75 to 8.8 months)
  • Birthing twins is rare; babies nurse up to three years
  • Sexual maturity is reached at 15 years of age for females
  • Lifespan: 53 to 58 years; 50 years in captivity

Vital statistics

  • Weight: males 130 to 200 pounds; females 90 to 120 pounds
  • Height: males 4.5 to 5 feet; females 4.5 feet

Status

Orangutans are critically endangered by loss of habitat from logging, conversion of forest into palm oil plantations and farms, and fragmentation by roads.

Orangutans, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo is home to both species of orangutan. Sumatran orangutan Inji was born in the wild and arrived at the zoo in 1961. Kumar is a "spunky" male Sumatran orangutan born on April 15, 2005 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Bob is a male Bornean orangutan born on January 23, 2006 at South Carolina's Greenville Zoo. 

The Oregon Zoo's orangutans live in the Red Ape Reserve exhibit.