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  • In Malay orang means “person” and utan is derived from hutan, which means “forest.” Thus, orangutan literally means “person of the forest.”
  • Orangutans’ arms stretch out longer than their bodies – up to 8 ft. from fingertip to fingertip in the case of very large males.
  • When on the ground, orangutans walk on all fours, using their palms or fists. Unlike the African apes, orangutans are not morphologically built to be knuckle-walkers.
  • From the age of thirteen years (usually in captivity) past the age of thirty, males may develop flanges and large size.
  • When males are fighting, they charge each other, grapple, and bite each other’s heads and cheekpads. They sometimes look like Sumo wrestlers.
  • For the first few years of his/her life, a young orangutan holds tight to his/her mother’s body as she moves through the forest canopy.
  • Like humans, orangutans have opposable thumbs. Their big toes are also opposable. Unlike humans, approximately one third of all orangutans do not have nails on their big toes.
  • Orangutans have tremendous strength, which enables them to brachiate and hang upside-down from branches for long periods of time to retrieve fruit and eat young leaves.
  • Although in the wild, females usually give birth to their first offspring when they are 15-16 years of age, in captivity females as young as eight years old have given birth. Likewise male orangutans in captivity as young as eight years old have fathered offspring.
  • Bornean and Sumatran orangutans can breed together in captivity, producing viable offspring. So many Bornean/Sumatran crosses were once present in American zoos (before such breeding was banned) that there were more crosses in captivity than “pure” Bornean orangutans.