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Our mission is to engage supporters and donors from around the world with the plight of the Bornean Orangutan and share the work of the amazing staff at The BOS Foundation.

Orangutan FAQs

Q: Where do orangutans live?

Orangutans live in the forest of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo). These are the ONLY places in the world where orangutans live. Orangutans live mainly in trees and only occasionally come down to the ground.

Q: What do orangutans eat?

Their main food is fruit (60%) young leaves (25%) flowers and bark (10%) insects, mainly ants, termites and crickets (5%) and the occasional egg. On rare occasions orangutans have been seen eating small mammals.

Q: Are orangutans nocturnal?

No, they are active during daylight and rest during the night.

Q: How long can orangutans live?

In the wild, their average lifespan is 45-50 years. They have been known to live longer up to 65 years in captivity.

Q: What noise does an orangutan make?

They “squeak” to communicate. Infants cry like a baby, and young ones scream and throw tantrums. Older orangutans make a long noise (over 1 minute) that sounds like “grumph”. It can be heard 300 metres in the forest. The adult males inflate their throat pouch and make a long call. This is a loud, pitched roaring that carries up to a kilometre in the forest.

Q: How big are orangutans?

An infant weighs around half a kilo at birth. Adult females grow to 1.3 metres in height and can weigh 45kg. Males can sometimes reach 1.8 metres in height and can weigh over 120kg.

Q: What are the differences between male and female orangutans?

Adult males are much bigger than females. As well as the size, the face changes dramatically as he gets older. He grows beard and moustache. The strongest (sexually dominant) male develops wide cheek pads and a throat pouch under his chin.

Q: How many babies are born at a time?

Normally only one infant is born at a time, however twins have occasionally been recorded. Gestation is around 8.5 months.

Q: When does the infant leave its mother?

Orangutan infants stay with their mother until they are about 6-8 years old. They receive breast milk for the first three years of their life but also learn to eat other foods. The mother teaches them everything about survival in the forest. They share a very close relationship.

Q: Do they live in families?

No, as adults they spend most of the time on their own. Babies and children stay together with their mother. However mothers and other related females do meet up and the infants play together.

Q: How old are orangutans before they reach maturity?

In the wild females normally have their first baby around 12 years old. Male orangutans mature around 15 years old. Cheekpads do not appear until they are around 20 years old and might not appear at all.

Q: Do orangutans have houses?

Orangutans don’t build houses. Instead they construct new nests each night in which to sleep.

Q: Where do orangutans sleep?

They sleep in their nests, usually a new one made in the evening. The nests are woven in a branch of a tree from broken tree branches and leaves, often very well crafted, like a big basket. Sometimes the nests can be more than a metre across. Orangutans also build nests in the daytime to rest and play in; a mother with young children might build 2 or 3 nests a day. A mother also uses a nest to give birth in.

Q: Are they dangerous or aggressive?

Normally no, but sometimes in captivity they can become aggressive as a result of how they are treated. They are up to 6 times stronger than humans and have 2 strong hands and 2 strong feed, and they can bite hard. Usually they are very peaceful animals. If an adult male meets another, they will try and avoid a fight by giving threat displays and staring at each other. If this does not work then they may fight.

Q: Do orangutans have any predators?

Yes, of which humans are the most dangerous! Other predators include the clouded leopard, Sumatran tiger, crocodiles and snakes.

Q: What is a rehabilitation centre?

Rehabilitation centres are set up to accommodate confiscated or donated pet orangutans. The aim is to guide and teach apes to return to their habitat. Many orangutans have already been successfully returned and released back in the wild.

Q: Why are they endangered?

Firstly, we are destroying their forests. Secondly, they reproduce very slowly. A female will only give birth every 6-8 years in the wild. Thirdly, humans hunt them for meat and to capture young infants to sell on the illegal pet trade.

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