Orang-utan means “man of the forest” in the Malay language. Rusty colored and shaggy, orang-utans weigh an average 110 pounds and can weigh over 200 pounds. The orang-utan lives in tropical, swamp and mountain tropical forests, where it eats mostly fruit, leaves and insects, using a rather sophisticated use of tools. Researchers van Shaik and Dopyera counted one orang-utan using 54 handcrafted custom tools for gathering insects and 20 tools for gathering fruit (1997). The long-armed orang-utan spends its time up in the trees, skillfully building an arboreal nest of sticks and twigs to sleep in each night. Adult orang-utans are generally solitary, except during mating. Not territorial, males have a range that extends across several female’s areas. A female gives birth to baby about once every six years.
The highly intelligent orang-utan were once plentiful in Indo-China, Malaysia and north to China and have declined dramatically since then. In last hundred, orang-utans have been known only in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo.
Major threats include habitat loss, especially due to forest destruction for logging and conversion to oil palm plantation, capture of the young and, in the past, killing of the mother to capture young, for the pet and zoo trades.
Credits: The painting reference photography is by Susan Domreis, Oregon Zoo volunteer and amateur wildlife photographer extraordinaire and Calley O’Neill. This giclee was printed by giclee master and wildlife photographer Paul McCormick in Hawai’i, and inspected, signed and numbered by Calley O’Neill.