Happy Ape-ril, aka Ape Awareness Month! Wild ape species face a multitude of dangers and destruction, including habitat loss, hunting, and poaching.
In honor of Ape-ril, we have compiled 10 of the most interesting ape and orangutan facts!
1. There are two types of lesser apes, and 4 types of non-human great apes.
- Lesser apes: gibbons (South-East Asia) and siamangs (South-East Asia)
- Great apes: gorillas (Africa) bonobos (Africa), chimpanzees (Africa), and orangutans (South-East Asia)
2. Apes are primates, and primates are mammals that have hair instead of fur, fingernails, opposable thumbs, large brain-to-body size, grasping fingers, fingerpads/prints, depth perception, and a reduced sense of smell.
3. Some of the key differences between apes and monkeys are apes’ longer lifespan, larger body size, larger brain-to-body size, and lack of tail.
4. Orangutans share nearly 97% of their DNA with humans.
5. Orangutans are the only primarily arboreal (tree-dwelling) great ape, and the largest tree-living mammal in the world.
6. There are 3 species of orangutan (Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli)
7. The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was finally described as its own distinct species in 2017 and is classified as the most endangered species of great ape.
8. There are 3 subspecies of Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus which is located in N.W. Borneo; Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii, which is located in S.W. Borneo; and Pongo pygmaeus morio, which is located in N.E. Borneo.
9. Orangutans have lost over 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years, with an entire third of the wild population dying during fires in 1997-1998.
10. An average of 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans are killed every year, with only approximately 50,000 to 65,000 orangutans still left in the wild.
Center for Great Apes