Genus of ape found in rainforests on the Southeast Asian islands of Sumatra and Borneo

Orangutans (Pongo) are great apes belonging to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. There are two species of orangutan. They are from Southeast Asia. There are very few of them left, because loss of the jungle has reduced their habitat. There are orangutans on view at the Singapore zoo.

Temporal range: Early Pleistocene – Recent
Bornean orangutan
(Pongo pygmaeus)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Ponginae
Genus: Pongo
Lacépède, 1799
Type species
Pongo pygmaeus
Lacépède, 1799 (Simia satyrus Linnaeus, 1760)

Pongo pygmaeus
Pongo abelii
Pongo tapanuliensis
Pongo hooijeri
Pongo weidenreichi

Range of the three extant species

Faunus Oken, 1816
Lophotus Fischer, 1813
Macrobates Billberg, 1828
Satyrus Lesson, 1840

Orangutan climbing

The name orangutan comes from two Malay words, orang which means person, and hutan which means forest; so orangutan means person of the forest.[1]


Evolutionary tree of the superfamily Hominoidea. It highlights the subfamily Homininae. First the gibbons (Hylobatidae) split from the main line some 18 million years ago. Next, the subfamily Ponginae broke away—leading to the current orangutan. Later the Homininae split into the tribe Hominini (with subtribes Hominina and Panina), and the tribe Gorillini



Orangutans have red-brown hair. They have long arms, and short legs. They can be strong like chimpanzees, gorillas and humans. They also have hands that are good for climbing. The Sumatran Orangutan is smaller and has longer hair than the Bornean orangutan. Orangutans have suffered from forest loss and are on the very edge of extinction.

Orangutans are from the rainforests on the islands Borneo and Sumatra in Southeast Asia. They mostly live up in the trees. They eat fruit, leaves and bark and also insects and bird eggs. They drink water from rain that has been collected in leaves. Orangutans are not comfortable on the ground since they have to push themselves along with fists. Heavy adults move carefully through the trees, using their flexible feet to grasp the tree branches. Smaller orangutans swing with more ease.

An orangutan's diet consists mainly of fruit, they like ripe fruit. If they cannot find fruit they will eat bark, leaves and termites, rather than move to somewhere else to get food. About 60% of an orangutan's diet is fruit, 25% is leaves, 10% is bark and flowers, and 5% is termites and other insects.[3]



After a pregnancy of 230–260 days the female gives birth to usually one baby, but sometimes two, every eight to nine years. The little ones stay with their mother for years, riding on the mother backend and learning to move through the forest. The young orangutans are playful and affectionate. When they are five or six years old, they become more independent and eventually go off on their own.[4]



  1. "Orangutan Facts –". orangutans-sos.org. Sumatran Orangutan Society. 2011. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  2. The Tapanuli Orangutan was discovered in Sumatra in 2017.
  3. "What do Wild Orangutans Eat?". Archived from the original on 2015-11-07. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  4. Blue Planet Level 5, written by Dinorah Pous p.70

Other websites