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Orangutans – Person of The Forest

Orangutans Quiz
Orangutans Quiz

Orangutans spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They eat there, sleep there and travel by scrambling from branch to branch. Orangutans live in Sumatra and on the island of Borneo. Orangutans eat mostly fruit, but they also eat bark, honey, bugs and even small mammals.

Orangutan Eating Image - Science for Kids All About Orangutans
All About Orangutans: Orangutans are apes and mammals.

Orangutan babies live with their mothers longer than any other mammals except humans. They don’t leave their moms until they are between 10 and 12 years old. Boy orangutans usually stay with mom longer than girls. Their moms teach them everything they need to know – how to find food, how to protect themselves and how to eat food. Adult males grow pads on the sides of their cheeks called flanges. These pads help them attract a mate.

Orangutan Swinging from Tree to Tree Image
Orangutans have flexible bodies and that’s not all about orangutans.

Fun Facts about Orangutans for Kids

  • Adult males are big boys! They weigh 300 pounds. Girls are much smaller. An adult male’s arm span is 8 feet. That means the spread between their outstretched arms is longer than your dad—or a small car!
  • Girls start having babies when they are about 16 years old. The babies stay with them for at least 10 years. Mama orangutans carry their babies until they are about 5 years old. Then it’s time for the babies to start walking on their own.
  • Orangutans have flexible bodies. They can put their legs behind their heads or do other stunts.
  • An orangutan’s favorite food is the fruit of the diurnal tree. This large fruit has a stinky smell and tastes a little bit like garlic flavored cheese. Yuck! But orangutans love the fruit so much they sometimes sneak into people’s yards to pick it.
  • Adult males fight with each other to win a mate. Sometimes they are seriously hurt.
  • The word “orangutan” means “person of the forest.”
  • Orangutans are very smart. They use tools, such as sticks, to scratch their backs, get insects out of trees or break open nuts. Some orangutans use leaves as napkins to wipe their faces. Others make ponchos or umbrellas out of large leaves.
  • Orangutans are deep thinkers. They watch and observe before trying out solutions to problems. Orangutans have watched villagers untie a boat from a dock to ride in. Later, they untie the boat and go for a ride themselves.
Orangutan Brushing its Teeth Image
Orangutans are very smart and clever.

Orangutan Vocabulary

  1. Flange: Cheek pads found on adult males
  2. Flexible: Able to change or bend
  3. Diurnal fruit: An orangutan’s favorite food
  4. Orangutan: person of the forest
  5. Poncho: A simple piece of clothing to protect from rain
A Male Orangutan with Huge Flanges Image
A Male Orangutan with Big Flanges

Learn More All About Orangutans

Check out this amazing video all about an orangutan who loves DIY:

A video documentary about a smart orangutan that acts like a human.

Orangutan Q&A

Question: What are a male’s flanges for?

Answer: To attract females. Also, during fights, males bite the flanges or ears of their opponents.


Question: What color are orangutans?

Answer: Most apes are black, but orangutans have long, dark red fur.


Question: What is an orangutan’s natural predator?

Answer: Unfortunately humans cause the most harm to orangutans by burning and destroying their homes.


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