The Best Journey of Borneo

Discover Fascinating Facts About Orangutans: The Remarkable 'People of the Forest'

Simple Facts About Orangutans: Learn about Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli orangutans, their unique traits, behaviors, and conservation challenges. Explore their impressive strength, diverse diet, early reproduction in captivity, and dramatic population decline. Find out why these "people of the forest" are truly remarkable.

Orangutan Journey

5/25/20241 min read

Meet the Orangutans: Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli

  1. Three Species of Orangutans: The three distinct species of orangutans are the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), the Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii), and the Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).

  2. Size of Male Orangutans: Male orangutans can grow to an impressive size, weighing up to 300 pounds.

  3. Dramatic Population Decline: Since 1903, the orangutan population has suffered a catastrophic decline of up to 97%.

  4. Orangutan Lifespan: In optimal living conditions, an orangutan can live up to 60 years.

  5. Ground Movement: Orangutans move on all fours using their palms or fists when on the ground, unlike African apes that walk on their knuckles.

  6. Male Development: Male orangutans, typically from age thirteen and beyond, may develop distinctive cheek pads and increase significantly in size, especially in captivity.

  7. Interbreeding in Captivity: Bornean and Sumatran orangutans can interbreed in captivity, producing viable offspring. Previously, crossbreeding was so common in American zoos that hybrids outnumbered pure Bornean orangutans.

  8. Diverse Diet: Orangutans are known to consume over 300 types of fruit.

  9. Aggressive Behavior: When fighting, male orangutans charge, grapple, and bite each other’s heads and cheek pads, resembling sumo wrestlers.

  10. Early Reproduction in Captivity: In captivity, female orangutans can give birth as early as eight years old, and male orangutans can father offspring at the same young age.

  11. Opposable Thumbs and Toes: Like humans, orangutans have opposable thumbs and toes. However, about one-third of orangutans lack nails on their big toes.

  12. Impressive Arm Span: The arms of an orangutan can extend up to 8 feet from fingertip to fingertip, especially in large males.

  13. Meaning of 'Orangutan': The word 'orangutan' comes from Malay, where 'orang' means 'person' and 'utan' is derived from 'hutan,' meaning 'forest,' thus translating to 'person of the forest.'

  14. Remarkable Strength: Orangutans possess immense strength, allowing them to brachiate and hang upside-down from branches for extended periods to gather fruit and eat young leaves.

  15. Maternal Bond: Young orangutans cling to their mother's body as she moves through the forest canopy during the first few years of their lives.