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Orang-utansOrang-utans The orang-utan is a great ape with very long arms, black skin and red hair. Orang-utans live alone, spending nearly all their time in the trees, travelling slowly through the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra in search of fruit to eat. They will also eat vegetation, bark, honey, eggs and insects. The name orang-utan comes from the Malay language and means “person of the woods”. Males are much larger and heavier than females, sometimes weighing nearly twice as much. Males also have distinctive wide cheek flaps and sagging throat pouches. Only a few thousand orang-utans still live in the wild. Tree-felling, especially to make way for palm oil cultivation, has greatly reduced their rainforest home.

Treetop walkers

Climbing through the treetops Climbing through the treetops Orang-utans differ from the other great apes in that they spend most of their lives in the trees. Their very long arms and hook-shaped hands and feet allow them to climb and swing between branches searching for fruit. Only very large males spend much time on the ground. As dusk approaches, orang-utans quickly make an elaborate nest in a tree, using leaves and branches for a soft bed and rain-proof ceiling.



The population of Sumatran orang-utans has fallen by about 80% since 1940. They are now confined to the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.

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