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Sumatran Orangutan

Pongo abelii

Did you know?

  • Orangutans are part of the Hominidae family, which they share with other great apes.
  • They are the most arboreal of the great apes and the largest tree-dwelling mammal
  • In the Malay language, the name "orangutan" means "person of the forest.”
  • Wild orangutans generally live alone. The only long-term bond they have is between a female and her young.
  • Orangutans make a number of vocalizations, including a “kiss squeak” when alarmed or displeased.

A Long Childhood

Except for humans, orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal in the world. Babies of more social apes, such as chimpanzees, can learn from multiple adults, while orangutan babies depend entirely on their mothers. They learn everything from mom — how to find food, make a nest and use tools. A young orangutan generally stays with its mother for 6 to 8 years on average, though this can vary.

A Passion for Fruit

Wild orangutans’ favorite food is fruit. They have been observed eating more than 300 kinds of fruit, but the two most common are fig and durian. When fruit is unavailable, they also eat leaves, stems, tree bark and insects, such as ants and termites. When there is an abundance of fruit in the area, wild orangutans have been known to be comfortable and sociable with each other.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild

Critically Endangered

The Sumatran Orangutan faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.




Tropical forests

We care about orangutans

Orangutans are in trouble in the wild. Their forest homes are being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute supports HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme in Malaysian Borneo in an effort to help this species in the wild.

The Saint Louis Zoo also participates in the Orangutan Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program that helps ensure a healthy population of animals. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world.

Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in The Wild


The Wild

You’ll find penguins, puffins, grizzly bears, gorillas, chimpanzees, to name a few. And while visiting, you can take a ride on the Conservation Carousel or hop aboard and ride the Zooline Railroad. There are also gift shops and eateries you can enjoy.

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