'Orang' and 'utan' are the Malay words meaning 'person' and 'forest'; the orangutan is literally a 'person of the forest'.



Orangutans may breed at any time of year as food is plentiful all year round. They do not pair for life and, as mentioned previously, a dominant male usually mates with several females. Gestation lasts for 8.5 months and the baby weighs about 1.5 kg at birth. It is totally dependent on its mother, suckling from her and travelling round by clinging to her body. When a little older, it wanders about on its own, sometimes walking along the branch behind its mother clinging to the hairs on her rump.

The youngster is weaned at around 2-3 years. A youngster may become semi-independent when about three years old but usually continues travelling with its mother until she gives birth again.

Since females do not mate until their last offspring is about six years old, they may only manage to raise two or three babies in a lifetime.

Read More: Orangutan Habits

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