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Orangutan

The orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus; also spelt orang utan, orang-utan) is a great ape with long arms and reddish, sometimes brown, hair native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Orangutan in Malay means man of the forest.

Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes, spending nearly all of their time in the trees. They are only found in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Orangutans are highly endangered in the wild. Orangutan habitat destruction due to logging, mining and forest fires has been increasing rapidly in the last decade. Much of this activity is illegal, occuring in national parks that are officially off limits to loggers, miners and plantation development.

Like the other great apes, orangutans are remarkably intelligent. In the mid-1990s, one population of orangutans was found to use feeding tools regularly. Evidence of this had been discovered among chimpanzees by Jane Goodall in the 1960s. A 2003 paper in the journal Science described the evidence for distinct orangutan cultures (see http://www.duke.edu/%7Emym1/ouculturesPR.htm ).

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