Bornean Orangutan

The Bornean orangutan is known for its red-orange hair and long arms. The orangutan is the only ape that inhabits Asia.

There are two different species of orangutans: Bornean and Sumatran. The Bornean has three subspecies: northwest, northeast, and central Bornean orangutan.

Bornean Orangutan

Where Do They Live?

The Bornean orangutan is found on the southeast Asian island of Borneo. It spends much of its life high up in the canopies of the rainforest.

Historically orangutans used to live as far north as China. The Bornean orangutan is now only found on the island of Borneo due to deforestation and poaching.

What Do They Look Like?

Bornean orangutans have red-orange hair and long arms which they use to swing along tree branches. Their wingspan is about 8 feet! They also have hand-like feet and flexible hips.

Males are larger than females with a height between 3.3 – 4.6 feet. Females are usually around 2.6 feet tall. Males weight around 200 pounds, and females about 110 pounds.

Male Bornean orangutans are known for their wide cheek pads, called flanges.

Bornean Orangutan with Infant

What Do They Eat?

The Bornean orangutan eats leaves, fruit, bark, flowers, and insects. They use leaves to collect water for drinking.

Orangutans help plants spread their seeds throughout the region. Over 500 different species of plants have been found in their diet.

The Bornean orangutan will travel to different regions to eat their favorite fruit. They know which fruit is available in which region and at which time.

To collect water when it is drier, orangutans will create a “sponge” of chewed leaves. They will then place the sponge into a tree hollow and collect any water available. 

Bornean Orangutan Eating

How Do They Behave?

The male Bornean orangutan is a solitary creature. Outside of mating they spend their lives alone.

Orangutans rarely come to the ground. They build nests in the treetops each night.

The Bornean orangutan has great intelligence. They use tools for their daily activities, such as using leaves for napkins and umbrellas. They will also use branches to measure the depth of water.

Life Cycle

The Bornean orangutan can live up to 50 years. They are listed as critically endangered animals as there are about 104,000 Bornean orangutans in the wild.

Adult males will only meet up with females to mate. They will call to the females with a “long call” that can be heard about 2 miles away.

Males will fully develop their cheek pads in their 20s. Females will only respond to males that have fully developed cheek pads.

Female Bornean orangutans will be pregnant for about 270 days. Once they have given birth, their babies will stay with them until they are teenagers so that they can learn how to take care of their own young.

Orangutans give birth every 7-8 years and only have one baby at a time. This slow rate of reproduction is one of the factors affecting their population in the world.

Interesting Facts

  • Orangutans share 97% of their DNA with humans
  • Walking is difficult for orangutans because of their long arms and hand-like feet
  • Baby orangutans will communicate with their mother through smiling, crying, and whimpering
  • Deforestation, poaching, and illegal pet sales all affect the Bornean orangutan population
  • Research from the National Zoo in Washington, DC has shown orangutans to solve problems and even use computers

Animals