Orangutans are amazing great apes that live in the lush rainforests of Borneo (in Southeast Asia). They are in grave danger of extinction because we are destroying their home for large-scale industries. Because of what we’ve done, one of our closest relatives could be extinct in less than ten years.
These apes mostly live in trees (they are arboreal) and swing from branch to branch using their arms (brachiating).
INTELLIGENCE AND SIMILARITIES TO HUMANS
Orangutans are very intelligent. They have been known to use found objects as tools; for example, they use leaves as umbrellas to keep the rain from getting them wet. They also use leaves as cups to help them drink water.
They share 96.4% of DNA with humans.
Orangutan hands are very much like ours; they have four long fingers plus an opposable thumb. Their feet have four long toes plus an opposable big toe. Orangutans can grasp things with both their hands and their feet. The largest males have an arm span of about 7.5 feet (2.3 m).
Orangutans don’t even have to leave their tree branches to drink, they drink water that has collected in the holes between tree branches. They have been reported to use moss to soak up water from small holes in trees that they can’t drink out of and then suck water off the moss.
BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL HABITS
Orangutans are shy, solitary animals that are active during the day (they are diurnal). They live alone in large territories. This is probably due to their eating habits; they need a large area in order to get enough food and too many orangutans in one area might lead to starvation.
The only long-lasting orangutan social group is the mother and offspring, who live together for about 7 years. When mating, the male and female orangutan stay together for only a few days.
Each evening, orangutans construct a “nest” in the tree branches for the night in which they will curl up and sleep. These nests are made out of leaves and branches. Nests are shared by a mother and her nursing offspring. Sometimes, the orangutan will use a leaf as a “roof” to protect itself from the rain. Orangutans often nap in the afternoon after a morning spent obtaining food.
COMMUNICATION AND VOCALIZATION
Male orangutans are capable of very long, loud calls (called “long calls”) that carry through forests for up to 0.6 mile (1 km). The “long call” is made up of a series of sounds followed by a bellow. These calls help the male claim his territory, call to females, and keep out intruding male orangutans. Males have a large throat sac that lets them make these loud calls.
Learn more about orangutans here:
Enchanted Learning- http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/apes/orangutan/
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