Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Orangutan

OK this is surely the point in which the A-Z challenge has caught up with me and kicked me up the backside. I saw Juliette's post called overload, and thought this challenge overwhelm what it referred to but it wasn't.

You know you are slipping under when you groan at the thought of writing about big red monkeys on a Wednesday afternoon. My hump day is haunted by the thought of them, sticking out their rubbery lips and sucking their toes - and they're not even monkeys, they're apes.



Orangutans are my favorite apes. While gorillas can be scary and chimps are a pain in the backside when not advertising tea, orangutans are solitary and intelligent as well as terribly endangered. They are also fun to watch at the zoo where their mournful faces and bum scratching routines can keep kids amused for hours. They are also disconcerting to watch at times because their characteristics can appear a little too human for comfort.

Orangutans are found in Sumatra and Borneo, great forested islands in which their habitat is being destroyed by the day. If it's worth your while becoming Sting and banging on about the rain forest or hanging out there unwashed for a few decades for any species, it's worth it for this one.

Much became known about these creatures due to the work of BirutÄ— Galdikas, a leading primatologist who hung out for 30 years in a primitive bark hut in Borneo, dubbed Camp Leakey - because it probably did - for 30 years.

She became an outspoken advocate for orangutans and the saving of their rainforest habitat, which is rapidly being devastated by loggers, palm oil plantations, gold miners and forest fires.

Orangutans are known for their solitary behavior and the close link between mothers and children. In contrast, fathers have little interest in child support.

Many studies have pointed to the intelligence of orangutans which suggest they may be having the last laugh at the kids who stare at them scratching their bottoms for two hours at the zoo.

For instance, a 2008 study of two orangutans at the Leipzig Zoo showed these apes can use 'calculated reciprocity', which involves weighing the costs and benefits of gift exchanges and keeping track of these over time.  They have also been known to use tools and to develop linguistics. Indeed, my recent efforts to fit blinds compare unfavorably with those of an orangutan.

Useless Fact About the Orangutan

There are many folklore theories relating to interaction with humans. In central Borneo, some traditional folk beliefs claim it's bad luck to look in the face of an orangutan. There are even folk tales of orangutans mating with and kidnapping humans and stories of hunters being seduced by female orangutans, which seem a bit far-fetched to say the least.

What Not To Say to an Orangutan

Come on baby light my (forest) fire.




22 comments:

  1. Wow, all the interesting orangutan facts. I don't think I'll be able to look one in the face again!

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    1. Thanks for the visit Christine - you'll never look at them the same at the zoo lol

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  2. This was an interesting post...but got a little creepy there at the end. Kidnapping and seduction of humans? Eeek! Had no idea David.

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    1. well may be a mere folk tale Tracy - but they do steal T shirts :)

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  3. Orangutans are fascinating creatures. It is very sad they are in danger of disappearing. =(

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    1. I know Patricia - think I'm going to sign up to the preservation society.

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  4. You've just endeared me to the orangutan, David. That's a big accomplishment. Thanks. (I think.) They are humorous to watch, as are some/many human beings.

    You're doing great with the challenge. You can make it. I know it's tough, but you're more than halfway there.

    xoRobyn

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    1. twas indeed my aim to endear you to the orangutan Robyn xo

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  5. I am more horrified than ever at the orangutan. Actually, all primates (is that the collective word for all monkey-type guys? I don't mean the guys I used to date. Or maybe I do.

    You do make me laugh!

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    1. well have heard this re the guys up north Deborah lol

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    2. Yeah, there is a plaid-shirt-wearing stereotype for the Minnesotan guy. Please don't judge all of them on my experience.

      I still don't love orangutans.

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  6. I totally love orangutans. Have you read about the recent programs involving orangutans using Ipads? Honestly they seemed better at using tablets than I am.

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    1. wow Julie - off to check out the ipad thing :)

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  7. Hang in there! We're almost through. :)

    ~ D is for Deecoded ~

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  8. I can't hear about orangutans without thinking about "Right turn, Clyde" from the Clint Eastwood movies "Every Which Way You Can" and "Any Which Way You Can." :-)

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  9. Oops! I meant "Every Which Way But Loose." ha!

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    1. oh wow - how cool is that Daisy - didn't know they had such a movie gig going on.

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  10. Orangutans are known for their solitary behavior and the close link between mothers and children. In contrast, fathers have little interest in child support. - Sounds an awful lot like Sophie's challenge! I love Orangutangs.

    On the subject of overwhelm, overload, Oh my God, Obviously I didn't think this through very well and Of course it's all your fault.

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    1. sigh Juliette - most things are but I didn't say it was obligatory to write a novel for every entry :)

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