Becoming critically endangered in the wild due to deforestation and hunting has brought these stunning red apes to the attention of the world. Although they can live up to 40 years in the wild and up to 60 years in captivity, Bornean orangutans are virtually solitary, unlike most other primates. They live in very small groups, usually only a female and her dependent offspring. Males only ever spend about 10% of their lives with other orangs. This leaves them very vulnerable to capture or destruction in their native habitat which is disappearing quickly to make way for more commercial forests.
Scientific tests have shown that orangutans share around 97% of the same DNA as humans. This is also shown by the fact that orangs use tools for such tasks as poking into holes to remove insects. Male orangutans have large cheek pads which increase in size as they grow older. These show their dominance over other males as well as their readiness to mate.
Blackpool Zoo’s group of orangutans comprises Ramon, the male, Vicky, the eldest female and her two daughters, Cherie and Summer. A new house has been built for the group which will provide a more conducive environment for breeding.