Details for World of Wonder 4/15

SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2019
Order: Primates
Family: Ponginae
Genus and species: Pongo pygmaeus
(Bornean) and Pongo abelii (Sumatran)

ORANGUTANS

By Laurie Triefeldt

The orangutan is the world’s largest tree-dwelling
animal and the only great ape of Asia. It is sometimes called the “gardener of the forest” because
it disperses the seeds of so many plant species.
In a word

In Malay, “orang” means “person” and “utan”
is derived from “hutan,” which means “forest.”
Thus, orangutan literally means “person of the forest.”

Every night, orangutans
bend tree branches and
arrange leaves into nesting
platforms.

Where in the wild?

Orangutans once ranged throughout Southeast Asia.
They were found well into southern China and all over
the islands of Java, Bornea and Sumatra. Today, they are
found only on Borneo and Sumatra.

Orangutans are
especially fond of
the large, spiky fruit
of the durian tree.
These fruits taste a
bit like custard and
garlic.

Orangutans on both islands live primarily in swampy
lowlands and hilly tropical rain forests at altitudes lower
than 3,281 feet (1,000 m) above sea level.

Did you know?

Long
arms

• Orangutans share about 97 percent of their DNA with humans.

• When on the ground, orangutans
walk on all fours, using their
!36(> #A 0><>+ 4&6;7C <=C .BA;$3&
apes, they are not morphologically built to be knuckle-walkers.

North
America

Asia

Thailand

$#"!%"
Ocean
Australia

South
America

* 1=C& (36C> 0?=<, <=C' $=3A?C
each other, grapple and bite each
other’s heads and cheek pads.
They sometimes look like sumo
wrestlers.

Cheek
pads

South
China Sea

32 teeth

Borneo

Sumatra
Sumatra populations
Borneo populations

Dinner time

Java Sea

Java

Endangered

One hundred years ago, 315,000 orangutans lived in
the wild, but today there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran
orangutans and 50,000 Bornean orangutans. The Sumatran orangutan is listed as critically endangered, and the
Bornean orangutan as endangered. Without the help of
humans, all orangutans could become extinct in the wild
within 10 to 20 years.

Physical characteristics

Male and female orangutans look quite different. Both
have long arms and reddish-brown hair, but males are
much larger than females. Fully mature males can reach
5 feet 9 inches (1.8 m) in height and weigh more than 260
pounds (120 kg). Females grow to 4 feet 2 inches (1.3 m)
and about 100 pounds (45 kg). Mature males can also be
";><;&?:;>=C" 2' <=C;A !A#(;&C&< $=CC7 -3&?C> 3&" 6#&?CA
hair.

More than half the orangutan
diet consists of fruit. The
apes also eat young leaves,
23A7, &:<>, -#)CA>, =#&C',
insects, vines and the inner
shoots of plants. Every once
in a while they eat insects
such as ants and termites, as
well as bird eggs. Researchers have documented more
than 400 different foods
eaten by wild orangutans.
@A3&?:<3&> 0&" <=C )3 =38C <=C;A 0A>< #BB>!A;&? 3< 3?C 5/ #A
16. (In captivity, females as young as 8 years old have
given birth.) They have one baby at a time. Baby orangutans are held by their mothers until they are about 5
years old. The young stay with their mothers until they are
7 or 8 years old — longer than any other mammal except
humans.
Males attain sexual maturity in their teens, but they do not
AC3$= B:66 >;%C #A =38C B:66' "C8C6#!C" -3&?C> :&<;6 <=C'
are in their 20s or 30s. Females tend to prefer the larger
(36C> );<= -3&?C>+

The sound
an orangutan
makes is called
a "!#' .,"".

In the wild, orangutans may live 45 years or more. The
oldest captive orangutan was a male called Guas at the
Philadelphia Zoo who lived to age 58.

SOURCES: World Book Encyclopedia; www.orangutan.org; kids.nationalgeographic.com; Smithsonian
National Zoological Park; www.orangutans.com; www.
orangutans-sos.org/kids/orangutan_facts; WWF

At a bookstore near you: Two full-color World of Wonder compilations: “Plants & Animals” and “People & Places.”
© 2013 Triefeldt Studios, Inc.
Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

LEARN ABOUT PAKISTAN IN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF WORLD OF WONDER

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