Melbourne Zoo

Sumatran Orang-utan

These ‘people of the forest’, so remarkably like us, meet us at their level in a carefully designed enclosure that makes for a satisfying encounter on both sides of the glass.

While this peaceable family group lives in safety, Sumatran Orang-utans in the wild are under great threat.  They are classed as critically endangered, with numbers in the wild rapidly falling. Numbers have dropped by close to 95% in the last 100 years and there may now be fewer than 3500 in the wild. Their rainforest habitat is being rapidly destroyed to make way for logging and agriculture, particularly palm oil plantations. They are also hunted for the pet trade and for meat.

Breeding programs in captivity, such as at Melbourne Zoo, are helping to ensure that the species doesn’t disappear. Our hope is that worldwide efforts to rein in destruction of orang-utan rainforest habitats will succeed. You can be a part of this growing international effort by supporting the ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ campaign.

Orang-utans are the largest tree-living mammals in the world. There are two species: the Bornean Orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran Orang-utan (Pongo abelli). The Sumatran Orang-utan has a narrower face and longer beard than the Bornean, which is darker in colour.

Sumatran Orang-utans are about 1.25–1.5 metres tall. Adult males weigh up to 90kg, and females up to 50kg. 

Orang-utans are largely solitary, unlike the other great apes, and spend much of their time foraging for fruit high up in the canopy of the rainforest. They rarely come to the ground and will build nests out of leaves and branches each night in the treetops.

News
Maimunah celebrates birthday

Maimunah celebrates birthday

Sumatran Orang-utan Maimunah has celebrated her 29th birthday with a Zoo Bakery banana cake topped with strawberries and banana slices, plus surprise parcels of treats.

Her actual birthday is May 23, but Keepers chose to celebrate today because it is World Biodiversity Day.

22 May 2015
Arthritis Assessment for Aging Orang-utan

Arthritis Assessment for Aging Orang-utan

Aging Great Apes, just like aging humans, can develop arthritis, and that’s the case for the Zoo’s oldest orang-utan, due to turn 37 in June.

17 April 2015
Encounters
Sumatran Orang-utan close

Orang-utan Behind the Scenes

Go behind the scenes with the Orang-utans at Melbourne Zoo; learn about how they survive in the wild, help with meal preparation and animal enrichment. 

Did you know?
  • This large, gentle ape shares 97% of our DNA, making it one of our closest relatives 
  • Like the other great apes, orang-utans are highly intelligent, as seen in their advanced tool use and problem solving abilities
  • An orang-utan’s arms stretch out longer than its body – over 2 metres from fingertip to fingertip. On the ground, they walk on all fours, using their palms or fists
  • Apart from humans, the orang-utan has the longest childhood dependence on a mother of any animal in the world (9 years)