The Life of an Orangutan

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Life of an Orangutan

Obscure Fact: They Only Give Birth Every Eight Years

 

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Photograph: Joshua Cotten, Unsplash


 

Indonesia and Malaysia are the only places you will find the great ape the Orangutan. At one time, they lived in Southeast Asia and South China as well. They are found in rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra. They have their own classification, Pongo being the genus.

 

They have a mass of 99-220 lbs., height of up to 4.6 ft., length of the Bornean Orangutan is 3.9-4-6 ft, and the Sumatran one 2.7 ft. only.

 

The name is from the Malay and Bahasa Indonesian orang(person) and hutan (forest). They are like humans in uncanny ways, having the ability to reason and think like people. 

 

Orangutans live to about 35 in the wild, longer in captivity. Males mature at 15-20 years before they are mature enough to compete with females. Because the young depend on their mothers for about 8 years, they only breed every 7-8 years. 

 

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Photo byKhamkhor onUnsplash

 

They spend entire lives swinging in trees, and building nests for sleep with leafy branches. They use leaves as umbrellas.

 

With their long arms and feet-like hands, they travel through the forest canopy with ease. They break off branches, creating gaps, allowing light to the forest floor, which helps it to regenerate. 

 

They have a strong social bond, considered semi-social, and unlike other apes. They still live alone for the most part. Flanged males are aggressive toward other males. 

They try to call females in other territories with “long calls” made by throat sacs and carry for up to 1.2 miles. They must do this since females are territorial. Females have territories of 3.5 square miles and males about 15 square miles.

 

Orangutans are omnivores, which means they eat vegetation and meat. Not usually part of their diet insects are eaten. They eat 500 different plants of which 60% is fruit, also flowers, bark, insects and leaves. They are the largest fruit-eating animals on earth with more than 300 types of fruit available. For a snack, they will scoop termites from tree holes.

Unlike chimpanzees, when given the task of putting a peg in a hole, orangutans will think about the task, gaze around before deciding how to do it, while chimpanzees will try different holes until finding the right one. 

 

There are 7,500 Sumatran orangutans in the wild, and 45-69,000 Bornean ones. They are protected by Malaysian and Indonesian laws, by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the  U.S. Endangered Species Act. Declines are 80% in 75 years in Sumatra, and 50% over 60 years in Borneo due to loss of habitat from fires and deforestation, and hunting by poachers. 

 

You can see how important it is for the preservation of their habitat for the future. 

 

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Shirley Langton 2020

 


Submitted: October 20, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Shirley M. Langton. All rights reserved.

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