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Orangutans have thin, shaggy, reddish-brown hair. They have long, powerful
arms and strong hands that they can use to manipulate tools. Orangutans have
the ability to make 13 to15 different types of vocalizations.
Most orangutans are four to five feet long,
some can reach a length of six feet. Adult males weigh between 100 and 200
pounds and adult females weigh between 65 and 100 pounds. Orangutans have an
arm spread of about five feet.
An estimated 19,000 to 25,000 orangutans live in the wild. Another 900 live in
In the wild, orangutans live for about 35 to 40 years.
Orangutans are only found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast
Orangutans are arboreal creatures, which means
they spend most of their lives slowly walking, swinging and climbing through
dense rain forests.
Orangutans feed mainly on fruits, especially wild
figs. They also eat other kinds of vegetation, insects, small vertebrates and
Orangutans are solitary creatures. Adult males live primarily alone and only
come together with females to mate. Adult females live with their young.
Occasionally, adults will live with other adults for short periods in small
temporary groups. Orangutans spend most of their lives in a "home
range" of 0.4 to 3.7 square miles. Females have a smaller home range than
males. Sometimes the home ranges of individual orangutans overlap.
Females are able to give birth after age
seven, but in the wild they generally do not mate until age 12. They give
birth to one young at a time, which clings to its motherís stomach until it
is about a year old. When an orangutan reaches adolescence at about four or
five years, it becomes more independent but may seek protection from its
mother until it reaches seven to eight years.
The orangutanís most serious threat is the destruction of forest habitat from
excessive logging. Female orangutans are also killed and their young are taken
and illegally placed in circuses and zoos.
Endangered Species Act, CITES* Appendix I
*Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more
than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded
commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only if it
does not harm their survival.