Biology

An orangutan’s lifespan is about 35–40 years in the wild, and sometimes into the 50s in captivity.

Orangutan females only give birth about once every eight years – the longest time between births of any mammal on earth.  This means that she may have only four or five babies in her lifetime, which is why orangutan populations are very slow to recover from any kind of disturbance.

After eight-and-a-half months of pregnancy, mothers nurse their babies for up to six years, because there’s so much for a young orangutan to learn in order to survive until they reach puberty at about eight years of age.

Young males may stay close by their mothers for a few more years, but as they mature they will travel long distances, paying little attention to other orangutans that they meet. Females may stay close to their mothers until they are into their teens, allowing them to observe mothering skills as they watch younger siblings being raised.

Adult orangutans don’t form groups as other great apes do, rather living a fairly solitary life, other than mothers with babies, or when finding a mate, which lasts for two to three weeks. Females are more social than males, and related females will sometimes meet and their offspring will play together.

When the males become sexually mature they develop many distinctive physical features. They develop fleshy cheek pads on both sides of their face and a high, fatty crown on their head. Their hair grows long and a beard develops on their faces.

They have an impressive call that they produce with the aid of their laryngeal sac (found under their chin). This is called the ‘long call’ and is used to locate and advertise their presence to females or to warn other males away.

A male orangutan can weigh over 90 kilograms and a female up to 50 kilograms. They are thought to be four to seven times as strong as an adult human male.  Orangutans’ arms are longer than their legs and when stretched out, their arm span is longer than their body. Their arm span can be up to 2.3metres!

How Can You Help

There are lots of ways you can support orangutans and help ensure the survival of this precious ape.

Adopt an Orangutan

Adopt an Orangutan

Orangutans are endangered and at risk of extinction. Habitat destruction means hundreds of orphan orangutans need to care for every year. You can help by adopting one. Their dedicated ‘nannies’ teach them everything they need to know for when it’s time to release them back to the wild. You can follow their progress through Forest School.

Adopt Now
Make a Donation

Make a Donation

Please help the Orangutans in their struggle for survival. Your donation is important and goes directly to BOS Indonesia. By donating, you are helping bring this noble yet endangered species back from the brink of extinction and on a path to freedom - from rescue to rehabilitation and release.

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Visit Our Shop

Visit Our Shop

The perfect gift for any occasion! Choose from our selection of instant gifts that directly support our orangutans. You can buy a wheelbarrow, provide food for an orangutan for two months or lots more. You will receive a certificate, personalised with the name of your choice - perfect gift for you or a friend.

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