Orang-Utan or Bornean Orangutan

(Pongo pygmaeus)


Orang-Utan or Bornean Orangutan IUCN ENDANGERED (EN)


Facts about this animal

Male orangutans are apes reaching a head-body height of up to 150 cm and a body weight (in the wild) of 75 to 100 kg. Females are considerably smaller and weigh up to 40 kgs. They have long arms, a stocky, thick-set body and short legs. Their coat is rather coarse and long, especially over shoulders and arms of old males. The face is bluish-black in colour. It is concave and markedly prognathic in adults. The eyes are small, narrow standing, with a brown iris. Males often have white or orange beards and develop enormous cheek flanges of fat and fibrous tissue. They also may get large dependent gular pouches. Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes, spending nearly all of their time in the trees, making a new nest in the trees every night. Unlike other apes, orang-utans are largely solitary animals. This social behaviour reflects the fact that each individual requires a large home range to forage for food. However, females do sometimes come together in small groups of four or five, especially in the fruit season when food is abundant and therefore not worth fighting over. In zoos keeping in family groups is possible.


Orang-utans have a low reproductive rate with females giving birth once every 4-8 years. The gestation period is 275 days and the female usually produces a single infant with a birth weight of 1-2 kgs, although twins are sometimes born. The young are nursed exclusively by the mother and carried around on her back or at her breast until they are completely weaned at three years old. When the mother gives birth again, the adolescent becomes more independent but may still stay with its mother until it is 7 or 8 years old.


Traditionally, Bornean and Sumatran orangs were classified as subspecies, recently they were elevated to full specific level by some authors.

Did you know?
that "orang" and "utan" are Malay words meaning "man" and forest", so the literal meaning of its name is "man of the forest"?


Suborder SIMIAE
Name (Scientific) Pongo pygmaeus
Name (English) Orang-Utan or Bornean Orangutan
Name (French) Orang-outan ou Orang-outan de Bornéo
Name (German) Orang-Utan
Name (Spanish) Orangután
Local names Malay: Orang Utan
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott



Range Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia
Habitat Lowland rainforest
Wild population 45,000-60,000 (2003) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 898 registered by the International studbook (2004), 576 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Orang-Utan or Bornean Orangutan


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 33 or 34 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Sumatran orang is critically endangered and the Borneo orang is endangered with the populations of both forms declining. Therefore, an International Studbook has been established in 1976 under the WAZA umbrella, and coordinated conservation breeding programmes are operated at the regional level. Animal welfare is another motive, as zoos come relatively often in a situation where they have to care for illegally traded confiscated specimens. Orang utans have also a great value for environmental education and as an ambassador species for their endangered rain forest habitat.