Lana, a female at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Orangutan means “person of the forest” and is a fitting name for a primate that is happy to spend its day hanging out in the treetops. The only truly arboreal ape, the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus abelii) is also the largest tree-dwelling animal. The big ape is too heavy to jump from tree to tree so when it needs to cross a gap in the canopy, it will sway the tree back and forth until it can reach out with its long arms and grab a neighboring tree with its hook-like hands. As a large animal with a hefty appetite for fruit, the red ape’s survival requires the protection of large areas of forested habitat.

High up in the trees, the orangutan is safe from its main natural predator, the tiger. An orangutan can spend an entire day gorging on fruit in a single tree.


  • Pronunciation: oh-RANG-u-tan
  • Where to see them: Northern Sumatra
  • Height: 3.8 to 4.5 ft
  • Weight: Male - 130 to 200 lbs; Female - 88 to 110 lbs
  • Lifespan: Up to 35 yrs in wild
  • Habitat: Tropical rainforest
  • Diet: Fruit, shoots, bark, insects, vines, bird eggs, and small vertebrates
  • Risk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Critically endangered)
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