The Orangutan (called Pongo pygmaeus or Pongo abelli by scientists) is one of great apes of the world. It has long red hair and strong, long arms that help it hang and move through the trees where it lives. Did you know that a male orangutan can reach objects more than 7.5 feet away with its long arms? Orangutans have a large bulky body, short bowed legs, and no tail. The head is quite large with a distinctive mouth area. An orangutan's hands and feet are much like a humans: they have 4 fingers on each with an opposable thumb that helps in grasping and picking up objects. Female orangutans weigh about 110 pounds and are between 2.5 and 3.5 feet tall. Males are larger, usually 200 pounds and 3 to 4.5 feet tall.
Orangutans live in the forests of Southeast Asia. They are found almost only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. More than any other ape, orangutans spend most of their time in trees, sleeping in large 'nests' made of woven leaves and branches. They eat both small animals and plants, but prefer the leaves and bark of the trees where they live. Some favorite items include ripe fruit from trees, small tender leaves, and flowers. When they do eat animals, orangutans look for insects or small birds that have perched on a nearby branch. Orangutans can even get water in a tree! They look for small pools that have collected between leaves. These animals also use tools such as branches and rocks to find food or leaves to keep dry.
These apes are active during the day but they prefer to spend time alone. Except for a mother caring for her young, orangutans are secretive and do not have established social groups. Males and females come together to mate but separate within a few days. Orangutans mate once they are about 7 to 10 years old. The female carries her young for 9 months and then (like all mammals) gives birth to a live offspring--usually only 1. She will provide milk for the animal and protect it for 6 years. Unfortunately, the habitat of the orangutan is in danger because of human invasion.