Orphaned Bornean orangutans play in the grass at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Malaysian portion of Borneo. Founded in 1964, the reserve is now home to 60 to 80 orangutans, with another 25 orphans cared for in nurseries.
Orphaned Bornean orangutans play in the grass at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Malaysian portion of Borneo. Founded in 1964, the reserve is now home to 60 to 80 orangutans, with another 25 orphans cared for in nurseries.
Photograph by Frans Lanting, Nat Geo Image Collection

13 Pictures of Beautiful, Endangered Orangutans

For International Orangutan Day, we celebrate the red-haired great apes with lively and vibrant photos from our archive.

Orangutans, those lovable orange apes of Southeast Asia, are in trouble. In July, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared both Sumatran and Bornean orangutans critically endangered—the last stop before they become extinct in the wild.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, Bornean orangutans in the wild number around 54,000, while Sumatran orangutans only number around 7,300.

To celebrate these animals’ beauty and improve conservation efforts, a group of nonprofits founded International Orangutan Day on August 19. The great apes’ primary threat is the rapid deforestation of their habitats. With the global demand for palm oil growing exponentially, forests are being slashed and burned to make way for plantations. Without their home, orangutans have a hard time bouncing back, as they only reproduce every six to eight years.

The word “orangutan” comes from the Malay language, meaning “man of the forest.” Keep clicking for 13 photos of orangutans in the wild, in rehab centers, and in zoos. From snacking to snuggling, it’s easy to see what we have in common with them. (Related: “Orangutans Are More Like Us Than You Think.”)

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