We celebrate International Orangutan Day on August 19; let us learn more about these great apes.
Everyone knows the orangutan is a species of great apes found only in Borneo and Sumatra. With shaggy hair and longer-than-life arms, there are reportedly around 12,000 left in Sabah and Sarawak .
A globally endangered animal, August 19 became International Orangutan Day as part of efforts to raise awareness about this gentle giant. So in honour of this great ape, let’s learn some interesting facts about this animal!
1. A young orangutan holds tightly to its mother for the first few years of its life. For the first two years, it is completely dependent on the mother. When the mother swings through the forest, her young follow her by clinging on to her body and drink her breast milk.
2. We know that orangutan have long arms, but did you know they can get extremely long? Large male orangutan have especially long arms, at times measuring 8 feet from fingertip to fingertip!
3. The orangutan have an extremely slow life history, the slowest among all mammals. These animals take the longest time to mature into adults and are slowest to reproduce.
4. A new bed every night. You read that right, orangutan usually build a new sleeping nest every night. The construct their bed from twigs, leaves and branches high up in the trees. Sometimes, they even build nap beds in the middle of the day!
5. Orangutan are extremely intelligent creatures. By the age of 10 years, many can identify up to 200 species of food plants. These animals also use tools to scratch themselves or forage for insects.
6. These animals are omnivorous. They eat both plants and insects, but their all-time favourite is ripe fruit. They also eat young shoots, bark, honey and inner, tender parts of plants.
7. An orangutan can stay with its mother for up to 10 years, and still come back to visit until the age of 15 or 16. It’s very rare to see such a close familial bond in the animal kingdom.
8. Orangutan are semi-solitary creatures, meaning they can be social at times but enjoy their alone time often. The ones who are most solitary are male orangutan with cheek pads.
9. With most of their lives spent above ground, orangutan are the biggest animal living in trees. Their arboreal lifestyle consists of climbing trees, swinging and brachiating (swinging using only their arms).
10. It’s about food. Orangutan spend a large chunk of daylight hours foraging for food. Smart animals, they’ve gotten their priorities right!
Featured Image Credit: Nat Geo Kids