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Orangutans are one of the great apes along with gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. These large arboreal mammals can only be found in Asia, specifically in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Unlike other apes, orangutans are semi-social meaning they prefer to be alone most of the time.
See the fact file below for more information on the orangutans or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Orangutan worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Common Name: Orangutan
- Genus: Pongo
- Family: Hominidae
- Type: Mammal
- Order: Primates
- Diet: Omnivores
- Average Lifespan in the Wild: 30 to 40 years
- Average Height: 4 to 5 ft
- Average Weight: 73 to 180 lbs
- Gestation Period: 8.5 months
Habitat, Anatomy and Life Span
- The term ‘orangutan’ comes from the Malay word ‘orang’, which means ‘person’, and ‘utan’ derived from ‘hutan’, which translates to ‘forest’. Thus, it literally means person or man of the forest.
- They are the largest arboreal mammal on the planet, which means they live in trees. According to National Geographic, they spend 90% of their time in trees. Like other apes, orangutans are covered with fur except for their bare faces. They have long red to orange fur and longer arms adapted to tree life and hands much like humans.
- According to the San Diego Zoo, Bornean Orangutans are heavier set than their Sumatran cousins. Moreover, Bornean orangutans have larger flanges or cheek pads found on the sides of their faces.
- Males of both species have larger flanges than females. On average, males average 54 inches and 191 lbs compared to females’ 45 inches and 81.5 lbs.
- Orangutans are omnivores, which means they eat both plants like flowers, bark and leaves, and meat such as ants and termites.
- They have long forelimbs in relation to their hind limbs with curved fingers and a reduced thumb. Males frequent the ground more often than females. Although they are quadrupeds like other primates, walking using four limbs, they are the only primate that doesn’t knuckle-walk.
- Compared to other great apes found in Africa, orangutans have a high and rounded braincase, reduced brow ridge, and a high degree of prognathism.
- Female orangutans can start reproducing at the age of 11 to 18 years. After 8 ½ months of gestation, a baby is born with an average weight of 3 ½ pounds. They have the longest birth interval at around 7 years.
- During the first months, baby orangutans cling to their mothers all the time. At the age of two, they are encouraged to explore the treetops on their own and suckle their mothers until the age of four. Like many primates, mothers teach their offspring how to forage for food, build nests and survive in the forest. Furthermore, young orangutans remain close to their mothers until the age of eight.
- Male orangutans are the only primate species with possible bimaturism. Bimaturism is present when there are two different forms of mature males. In the case of orangutans, there are flanged males and unflanged males. Flanged males are distinguished by having flanges double the size of females, while unflanged males are those with smaller flanges.
- Flanges among males dictate dominance and popularity with females. Males with larger cheek pads are more attractive to females. Flanged males live solitary lives. They use long calls which can be transmitted up to kilometers away. This special call warns other males to keep away but attracts females to mate.
Behavioral Traits and Conservation Status
- Female orangutans are more social than their male counterparts. Males leave females after mating, while mothers solely tend their offspring.
- Male to male competition can occur as a result of mate and spatial distribution. In terms of female dispersal patterns, they settle in home ranges, which may overlap with their mothers.
- With regards to hierarchy, adult males are always above subadult males. Moreover, dominant males usually have the biggest and best body build.
- During mass fruiting, orangutans form travel bands but in times of scarce resources, fighting may occur.
- Studies suggest that Sumatran orangutans are more capable of using tools than Bornean orangutans. They use large leaves as umbrellas, leaves as toilet paper and sticks for collecting insects and seed pods.
- According to the IUCN, both species of orangutan are endangered. The decline in both populations are caused by the following:
- Logging as a primary problem since they spend most of their time in trees.
- Lost of habitat and fragmentation because forests are turned into palm oil plantations and farms.
- Poaching of baby orangutans.
- A slow rate of reproduction to replenish lost numbers.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about orangutans across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Orangutan worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the orangutans which are one of the great apes along with gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. These large arboreal mammals can only be found in Asia, specifically in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Unlike other apes, orangutans are semi-social meaning they prefer to be alone most of the time.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Orangutan Facts
- Person of the Forest
- The Great Apes
- What’s the Difference?
- Flanged or Unflanged?
- Picture Board
- Certified Orangutan!
- Run for Life
- Red Ape Hunt
- Orangutan Files
- Hear Me! Hear Me!
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Link will appear as Orangutan Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 12, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.