Peeping into the Fascinating World of Orangutans: The Gentle Giants

It’s time to get acquainted with the majestic apes of South Asia, who like swinging around the trees. Read on to find more about them.

You might find people curious about orangutans. They love visiting them in a zoo or seeing them in the wild. People travel especially to Borneo and Sumatra every year to know more about them. Ever wondered why we feel so connected to these great apes? The reason is simple. The orangutans are close relatives of human beings through DNA which is 97% identical to us. The name orangutan translates as orang, which means man and hutan meaning forest in Malay. Local people used to refer to these animals as the forest-dwelling men. That is how the name stuck with the world.

Tree Dwellers

Orangutans are the heaviest tree-dwelling animals known in the world. They like living on the trees, swinging around on the tree branches and forage for their food just like the monkeys. However, with an average weight of about 100 Kg, these great apes need dense and big trees to move around.

During the night, they sleep on the trees by building a new nest every day. Their nest consists of tree branches and leaves, which only takes ten minutes to build. In the morning, they leave their nests for good.


Although all these giant orange apes look quite similar in appearance, scientists have found three species of orangutans till date. These are Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans. The Tapanuli variations were discovered only in 2017.

Since orangutans are known to be loners in the wild and mostly found in the dense rainforests, their numbers are dwindling rapidly which is a matter of concern for scientists around the world.

Mama’s babies

Orangutan babies are known to be very close to their mothers, and they stay with their moms until eight to nine years after birth. Their mother’s dote on them and do not have another offspring during this time so they could give full attention to the baby.

To survive in the wild, an orangutan learns everything from the mother. She teaches her child to forage, build nests, climb trees, potentially dangerous situations and other such survival tricks. This close mother-child relationship is visible in babies riding on moms and sleeping in their mother’s nest.

They use tools

Orangutans are extremely intelligent animals who have been observed using tools to their use. Often they use sticks to reach out for honey or insects out of a tree hole. Very frequently, they are seen scooping their hands and nails to eat fruit, leaf or tuber.

Orangutans are calm, intelligent, and our nearest relatives in the wild. They deserve to be known. If you got to know a fact or two through this story, pass it on to others and show some love to these gentle giants.

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