Orangutan

Orangutan means “man of the forest” in Malay and Indonesian languages. Orangutans are the only one of the four great apes (orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo) not native to Africa; they live in the southeast asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.


  • Scientific Name: Pongo pygmaeus
  • Range: Borneo and Sumatra
  • Status in the Wild: Critically Endangered
  • Location in the Zoo: Wortham World of Primates
  • Cool Animal Fact: Males are twice the size of females and have large cheekpads and long dreadlocks as indicators of full adulthood.

How Snack Foods Affect Orangutans in the Wild

Palm oil is a product that is used in everyday items like packaged cookies, chips, candy bars, ramen, and even shampoo and pet food. Many palm oil plantations take over homes for animals like orangutans. Some companies work to protect wildlife while farming palm oil, others do not. The ones who set aside space and resources for wildlife we refer to as “sustainable”.

The Houston Zoo is working with groups in Indonesia who are working to save wild orangutans and their habitat. Find out more about how we help wild orangutans through partnership and support, and some easy things you can do to help!