Mr. Paper

Submitted By lightningsevens
Words: 1692
Pages: 7

About Orangutans

The name “orangutan” literally translates into English as “man of the forest”. It comes from Malay and Bahasa Indonesian orang (man) and hutan (forest). Orangutans are extremely intelligent creatures who clearly have the ability to reason and think. Their similarity to us is uncanny. Baby orangutans cry when they’re hungry, whimper when they’re hurt and smile at their mothers. They express emotions just like we do: joy, fear, anger, surprise… it’s all there. If you take a few minutes and watch an orangutan, you’ll swear they’re just like us. And they kind of are… Orangutans are large, but in general are quite gentle. Large males can be aggressive, but for the most part they keep to themselves. They are uniquely arboreal – living their lives quietly up in the trees away from predators… and only descending to the forest floor when they must. Were it not for the occasional squealing of a baby or calling out of a big male, you would hardly even know they were there. They don’t bother anyone. They don’t want anything to do with us. They’re too busy getting on with their lives. Local Indonesian mythology has it that orangutans actually have the ability to speak, but choose not to, fearing they would be forced to work if were they ever caught. Legends aside, even if this were the case, who could blame them? Where are the orangutans? In prehistoric times, orangutans lived throughout Asia– roaming as far north as China. Today deforestation and the spread of humans have limited the untouched rainforest to a few remaining areas in Borneo and Sumatra. It is only on these two islands that there are large enough forest areas to sustain a viable breeding population of orangutans. But even here the forest is rapidly disappearing. During the last 50 years their habitat has been eaten away by urban growth, plantations and farmland. The spreading of oil palm plantations – unless it is stopped – could spell the end of all wild orangutans… Orangutans are divided into two different subspecies. In general, Borneans are slightly smaller in size and have darker hair than their Sumatran cousins. The Bornean subspecies is further divided into several distinct geographic types. The orangutan is the only non-human great ape left in Asia, but due to all the threats against them their chances of survival is quickly diminishing. While exact numbers are unknown, one thing is for sure: the number of orangutans in the wild is decreasing drastically. In Sumatra the latest calculations show that orangutan numbers have been reduced from 12,000 in 1993 to only about 6,500 today. In Borneo fewer than 35,000 orangutans are believed to remain. Below you can find some facts about orangutans and forests. Remember that the numbers are estimates. Exact figures are hard to come by. Average height standing up: Male 4 1/2 feet; Female 3 1/2 feet. Their arms are much longer than their legs. The arm span for large males can be up to 8 feet. Average weight: Adult male 200 to 250+ lbs., Adult female 100 – 150 lbs. On average, females are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of males Average lifespan: Estimated 35-40 years in the wild, into their 50s in captivity– depending on diet and exercise. Number of babies: One at a time, every 6 or 7 years, perhaps as many as 4 or 5 total. Infants never leave their mothers. Babies nurse until they are about 6 or 7 years old. They have the longest dependence of any animal on earth. Young males begin to break away from their mothers after they, themselves, reach puberty. Females stay with their mothers longer, often learning child-rearing skills from her. Social status: Grown males live alone while females live with their young. Even though they reach puberty at about 8 years old, a female isn’t physiologically ready to have her own baby until she’s in her teens. Their diet consists of bark, leaves, flowers, a variety of insects, and most