Orangutangs: Kids Meet One of Our Closest Relatives

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Close your eyes, bring an adult or two and friends and hop aboard my magical plane.   I’ll set the GPS for Sumatra and Borneo. Yes, I can wait while you get out a globe or atlas.

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Touch down.   We have made a safe landing and when we get out of the magical plane, you will notice a tropical rain forest. It is very hot and it feels humid or sticky.   Listen and watch.   High up in the trees shaggy, red-haired orangutans are bending the branches to make a comfortable matress of leaves and twigs.   Some are pulling down braches to make a roof in case it rains. This is why it’s called a rainforest – it rains often.

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Wow, look at that big Adult Ape!

He is a male and he weighs 220 pounds that’s 100 kilograms and often people weigh this much, too.   They are the largest tree apes. See how they use their arms to swing from branch to branch.

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On the ground, orangutans walk on all fours.

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Orangutans find their food in the trees where they live. More than half their diet consists of fruit. They also eat nuts, bark, and other parts of plants and trees. Every once in a while they eat insects such as ants and termites, as well as bird eggs.

Orangutans find the water they need for drinking up in the trees—in hollows, on leaves, or even on their own fur after a rain. Trees are essential to every aspect of the orangutans’ world. The cutting down of trees—deforestation—has landed this species on the endangered species list.

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 Our Close Relatives

The orangutan is one of humankind’s closest relatives – in fact, we share nearly 97% of the same DNA! The word orangutan comes from the Malay words ‘orang hutan‘, meaning ‘human of the forest‘.

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