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Orangutans (Pongo spp.) Fact Sheet: Summary

Orangutans (Pongo spp.) Fact Sheet


Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Linnaeus (1760), as Simia pygmaeus

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Hominidae

Subfamily: Homininae

Genus: Pongo

Species: Pongo abelii (Sumatran orangutan)
Species: Pongo tapanuliensis (Tapanuli orangutan)
Species: Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean orangutan)

P. p. pygmaeus
P. p. wurmbii
P. p. morio

Body Weight:
Males 87 kg (192 lbs)
Females 37 kg (82 lbs)

Body Length:
Males 970 mm (38 in)
Females 780 mm (31 in)

Standing Height:
Males 1366 mm (54 in)
Females 1149 mm (45 in)

Tail Length: none

Pelage: long, flowing, red

Sexual Dimorphism: pronounced

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: fragmented forests of Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia)

Habitat: alluvial forests, swamps, mountain foothills

IUCN Status:
Pongo abeli: Critically Endangered (2017 assessment)
Pongo tapanuliensis: Critically Endangered (2017 assessment)
Pongo pygmaeus: Critically Endangered (2016 assessment)

CITES Status: 
Pongo abelii: Appendix I
Pongo pygmaeus: Appendix I
Pongo tapanuliensis: Not listed

Population in Wild:
Sumatran: about 14,000 individuals
Borneo: between 55,000 and 104,000 individuals (rapid decline over past 40 years)
Tapanuli: about 800 individuals

Locomotion: Primarily arboreal

Activity Cycle: Diurnal; bimodal feeding pattern (morning and afternoon) with resting/napping in between.

Social Groups: Males usually solitary, females with young or solitary, groups of adolescents.

Diet: Fruit is preferred; also leaves, bark, seeds, and insects.

Predators: Humans; possibly clouded leopard and Sumatran tiger.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: 6-8 years old

Gestation: 227-301 days

Litter Size: usually one, rarely two

Birth weight: 2-6 kg

Age at Weaning: 5-8 years old

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: approximately 40-45 years
Managed care: For Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), median life expectancy of about 28 years for males and 38 years for females. For Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), median life expectancy of 25 years for males and 34 years for females.

Feature Facts

  • Orangutan means "person of the forest" in Malay
  • Arms are about twice as long as the trunk, spanning 7 feet
  • Orangutans are the most solitary ape
  • Males are dimorphic (two body types), causing early researchers to call them separate species
  • Feet are like another set of hands - prehensile with long toes
  • Orangutans might exhibit simple, primitive culture
  • Populations are quickly declining from factors including drought and fires
  • "Ken Allen," the orangutan, was beloved and infamous for his numerous escape attempts; resided at the San Diego Zoo from 1971 until his death in 2000.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2003-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor update 2015. Taxonomy and Conservation updates 2017. IUCN errata versions updated 2018.

How to cite: Orangutans (Pongo spp.) Fact Sheet. c2003-2017. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. orangutans
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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