May 22, 2008

Orangutan Video And Quick Facts


Prehistorically, the number of orangutans was probably in the hundreds of thousands, their range extending from Southern China through Southeast Asia. Today, their total numbers range from 50,000 to 60,000 in the wild. On northern Sumatra, their numbers are critically low at 7,500 individuals. They are now endangered in the wild, primarily because illegal logging, mining, farming, the spread of palm oil plantations, and forest fires have altered or destroyed more than three-fourths of their rainforest habitat. Additionally, poachers often kill orangutan mothers to secure an infant for the live animal trade - about six to 10 orangutans die for every one that survives. The orangutans reproductive rate is also very slow; in the wild, they have only one infant every seven or eight years.

Under ideal conditions, these solitary animals roam the forests in search of widely distributed food sources. The reduction of suitable habitat is forcing orangutan populations into smaller areas that cannot support them. Though protected by law in Indonesia, Malaysia, and internationally, enforcement of these laws is extremely difficult in many areas. If the alarming rate of forest destruction continues at today's pace, the orangutan species as we know it could be completely gone in as little as five years.

Quick Facts!

1. Class: Mammalia

2. Order: Primates

3. Super family: Hominoidea

4. Family: Pongidae

5. Genus: Pongo

6. Species: abelii (Sumatran) and pygmaeus (Bornean)

7. Length: males - about 40 inches from top of head to rump; females - about 30 inches

8. Weight: males - 110 to 300 pounds; females - 66 to 110 pounds

9. Life Span: 60 years or more

10. Gestation: about 8.5 months

11. Number of Young at Birth: usually 1, very rarely 2 (in captivity)

12. Size at Birth: 3.3 to 4.5 pounds

13. Age of Maturity: males - about 15 years; females - about 12 (in captivity)

14. Conservation Status: Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean) is endangered; Pongo abelii (Sumatran) is critically endangered

Fun Facts!

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

2. Orangutans arms stretch out longer than their bodies - over 7 ft. from fingertip to fingertip - and are used to employ a "hookgrip." When on the ground, they walk on all fours, using their palms or their fists.

3. When male orangutans are about 15 years old, they develop large cheek pads, which female orangutans apparently find attractive.

4. When males are fighting, they charge at each other and break branches. If that doesn't scare one of them away, they grapple and bite each other.

5. For the first few years of his/her life, a young orangutan holds tight to his/her mother's body as she moves through the forest in search of fruit. Later, he/she will follow the mother as she moves through the trees.

6. Like humans, orangutans have opposable thumbs. Their big toes are also opposable.

7. Orangutans have tremendous strength, which enables them to brachiate (swing from branch to branch) and hang upside-down from branches for long periods of time to retrieve fruit and eat young leaves.