In Focus – Orang-utan

Geographic Region: Asia
Meaning of name: Person of the forest    
Habitat: Rain forest
Threats: Around 80% of habitat lost due to deforestation
Left in Wild: Approximately 3500   
Captive Population: Approximately 665
Melbourne Zoo

The Orang-utan is one of the great apes and the largest arboreal (living among the trees) mammals found on earth today. There are two species of orang-utan, Sumatran and Bornean. They are a highly intelligent species known to solve complex problems, using tools and planning for tasks in advance. Orang-utans are solitary animals rarely meeting others of their species unless mating; they live for on average for 35years in the wild and 60 years in zoos.

Stu’s zoo pick for orang-utans

Perth Zoo, Australia is a world leader in the breeding of the Sumatran orang-utan having successfully bred 26 orang-utans since 1970 as part of its captive breeding program. In 2006 Perth Zoo released one of its female orang-utans, Temara into Bukit Tigapuluh National Park as part of a release program to help re-establish a viable population of Sumatran orang-utans.


Orang-utan at Perth Zoo

Zoos breeding programs play an important role in species’ survival by increasing the diversity of their gene pool. The healthier and more diverse a specific population becomes the more opportunity there is of increasing population numbers and therefore lowering the possibility of extinction. 


Singapore Zoo has the world’s largest orang-utan enclosure and population. There are three separate enclosures. An island (which is a natural enclosure as orang-utans can’t swim); enclosed cages for breeding; and free range areas where large trees have been fitted with hot wire around their trunks stopping orang-utans from coming down the trunks and escaping. This allows for the primates to freely swing between trees throughout the zoo.   I am hoping to review Singapore Zoo in 2018

Australian Orang-utan Project 

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