Article: Are orangutans the largest great ape? Print


  • Orangutans live in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. They all have long red hair, but the Bornean ones are browner, whereas the Sumatran ones are more ginger in color.
  • In both species males are almost twice as large as females and weigh in at around 170 lbs. Males have large cheek pads, which continue growing for much of their lives. The orangutan is the second largest of the great apes. Unlike other apes, they tend to live alone, in pairs or in small family groups.
  • Adult males are solitary and territorial. They make loud calls and shake branches to keep other males away.
  • Orangutans are active in the daytime, and spend a lot of time foraging for food. Fruit is their staple diet but they also feed on leaves, bark, buds, flowers, seeds, insects and eggs. Orangutans spend all their lives among the trees in fact they are the largest tree living animals. Sleeping in trees may sound odd for such a large animal, but they make sleeping platforms padded with leaves and twigs. These nests can be as much as 60 feet above the ground.
  • Orangutans are great tree climbers, and spend a lot of time just hanging around! They have incredibly long arms that reach down to their ankles. Their arms are used to distribute their weight between branches. When they do venture down to the ground, they walk on all fours.
  • Females give birth to a single young every eight years. The baby is carried around by its mother until it is about 18 months old, and can climb by itself.
  • The orangutan is in great danger of becoming extinct. Their numbers are being dramatically reduced due to the destruction of their habitat.

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