5 min read

7 Signs That You Are Actually An Orangutan At Heart

<p><a class="checked-link" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hisgett/7109564287/in/photolist-bQfnLB-bQfnp6-aBFnwu-8AQKjA-6gejUn-9Fjyb5-jH6fjh-are9aK-bkA1QU-61ct5q-9Qf7Qa-oq6nc8-ij7BUd-aPzwG-bQeSD8-bNats-3cga3r-9QhXYu-iFiR4-9Qf7R2-phApEH-eiu8VH-7V4FVD-9eBZWD-pAVHnF-bVMX7q-6giuEh-6gembk-e7rnN2-6geiRZ-6gitz7-6gej7a-6girhu-e7x2tq-e7x3Ru-6giuYG-c9KuYb-6geimn-6gir3Q-6gehre-6gehjK-hwFj5-hwFeC-hwFqA-7V7WvL-iFiRK-6gisrN-MrFtK-bMKqtD-6genwv">Tony Hisgett/Flickr</a></p>

Orangutans, whose name translates to "person of the forest," are some of our closest living relatives - in fact, they may be our nearest relatives, with even more genetic similarities to humans than chimpanzees. In fact, they are so like us that you might think that you are actually one at heart - especially if you meet these seven qualifications:

1. You have startlingly sophisticated language capabilities.

Orangutans make "long calls" used to attract mates, "rolling calls" to intimidate others, and "kiss squeaks" when irritated, among other vocalizations. Even better, orangutans have been observed blowing raspberries, a sign for a playful invitation.

2. You are an excellent learner.

Like the famous gorilla Koko, orangutans have been taught sign language and communicate in rudimentary signs with humans. One orangutan named Chantek has mastered hundreds of signs, and even understands the concept of money. He's also invented signs of his own - one notable sign he made up was calling contact lens solution "eye-drink."

Another orphaned orangutan in Borneo named Princess learned a host of sign language words when researcher Gary Shapiro "adopted" her. In between lessons, she liked Shapiro to take her for a dip in the river.

3. You can outwit humans - and you do so gladly.

Orangutans are known for their brilliant escape tactics. In March, a pair of orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo dismantled a surveillance camera, then explored other normally off-limits parts of the enclosure.

4. You are a picky eater.

Orangutans are normally fruit-eaters, feasting on jungle treats like jackfruit, lychee and durian. Interestingly, they have been observed puckering up their lips before eating a piece of fruit to test its texture and taste.


Fruit isn't their only staple - wild orangutans have also been seen catching and eating small mammals called slow lorises.

5. You form incredibly tight bonds with babies.

Unlike other apes who live in large social groups, adult orangutans are solitary by nature. But they are very close to their babies, and orangutan mothers will stay with their young for up to eight years - longer than any other great ape.

6. You make brilliant use of tools.

Orangutans have been observed using tools on countless occasions - from using a stick to fish for termites to even sawing wood with a handsaw. David Attenborough explains:

7. You looked like this as a baby:

(Tony Hisgett/Flickr)

So if you fit all of these criteria, you may also know that you're in big trouble. The two species of orangutans - Bornean and Sumatran - are some of the most threatened animals alive, considered endangered and critically endangered, respectively. There are some 48,000 orangutans left in the wild - a number that has fallen by 50 percent in the past 60 years. Habitat destruction from the invasion of palm oil plantations, hunting and the illegal wildlife trade all pose major threats to orangutans. Head over to Orangutan Outreach to learn more about threats facing these apes and how to support organizations working to save them.