Orangutans:

The orangutans (also spelled orang-utan, orangutang, or orang-utang) are the two exclusively Asian species of extant great apes. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in trees. Their hair is typically reddish-brown, instead of the brown or black hair typical of chimpanzees and gorillas. Males and females differ in size and appearance. Dominant adult males have distinctive cheek pads and produce long calls that attract females and intimidate rivals. Younger males do not have these characteristics and resemble adult females. Orangutans are the most solitary of the great apes, with social bonds occurring primarily between mothers and their dependent offspring, who stay together for the first two years. Fruit is the most important component of an orangutan's diet; however, the apes will also eat vegetation, bark, honey, insects and even bird eggs. They can live over 30 years in both the wild and captivity.

Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates; they use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. The apes have been extensively studied for their learning abilities. There may even be distinctive cultures within populations. Field studies of the apes were pioneered by primatologist Birute Galdikas. Both orangutan species are considered to be endangered, with the Sumatran orangutan being critically endangered. Human activities have caused severe declines in the populations and ranges of both species. Threats to wild orangutan populations include poaching, habitat destruction, and the illegal pet trade. Several conservation and rehabilitation organisations are dedicated to the survival of orangutans in the wild.

(from Wikepedia)



I became fascinated in orangutans though watching the television programme Monkey Business/Monkey World. The programmes were made at the largest ape rescue and rehabilition centre in the world; Monkey World, in Dorset, England. It was set-up by the late Jim Cronin and his wife, Alison, together with their friend Jeremy Keeling, on the site of an old pig farm. Their first organutan was Amy, who had been hand-raised by Jeremy from birth when her own mother rejected her. He went on to rear her son, Gordon, after he had to spend several weeks in an incubator after his birth. Amy can be grumpy, she doesn't early mornings and she likes an occasional cup of coffee!

In fact, I am now one of Amy's "parents", as my husband and daughter adopted her for me as a Christmas present! Amy is 32 years old and highly intelligent. She lives with Gordan and two other orang girls in one of the park's three orang groups. Although not social animals in the wild, Monkey World has successfully formed two "family" groups, each with one alpha male and a number of females. They all seem to enjoy living together. There is also a nursery for young ones who have largely come from other zoos and parks, after losing their own mothers.

I love orangutans! I love their slow, deliberate, thoughtful manner, so different from the excitable, screaming chimps. Everything new is given careful consideration before being gently touched and tested.



Links:

Monkey World
Gordon and his Girls
Orangutan Foundation International
AZA Orangutan Conservation Education Center
The Orangutan Foundation
Orangutan Land Trust