Orangutans are the secong largest primates on earth after the gorilla and all orangutans are considered endangered. It is estimated there are only 12,000 to 35,000 Bornean orangutans now left in the wild, while surviving Sumatran orangutans may number as few as 3,000 to 5,000.
A large underground trade in these great apes exists in SE Asia and globally. In Asia they are smuggled from their natural habitats in Borneo or Sumatra and used primarily in theme parks to entertain tourists and visitors. Orangutans are highly intelligent and emotional beings and the shows in which they are forced to perform are a degrading and distressing experience for the animals.
Often they are taken from the forest as babies or juveniles as a full grown wild orangutan is extremely powerful and difficult to control and maintain while being shipped. The mothers are often killed in the process of capturing a baby as they are known to fiercely defend their young.
They play an important role within a rainforest, dispersing seeds and contributing to the expansion and regeneration of the forest.
Large male orangutan in Pata private zoo, Bangkok, Thailand. Copyright 2011©Adam Oswell