Are you relaxed, introspective, fond of comfy nap cuddles, and a lover of trees?
If you answered yes to all the above, congratulations! You may be an orangutan.
I fell in love with orangutans when I took a biological anthropology class my sophomore year of college which required me to study primates in a zoo of my choosing, which was definitely the coolest project I’ve ever been assigned.* Granted, hand me a clip board and some kettle corn and I’d be happy to observe an old lint ball, but I have to say there is nothing quite like watching orangutans, or as I call them in private, our world’s gentlest redheads.
Beyond my surface-level admiration for their lumbering casualness, I’m drawn to orangutans because they are, on a deep and spiritual level, The Most Chill. I was reminded of this the other day when I came across San Diego Zoo’s ape cam, which presents an amazing opportunity to watch your work productivity plummet in record time.
So since I’m in the spirit, I’ve prepared 10 reasons orangutans should get more of your (and your! and your!) love and attention, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Earth’s A+ chillers.
1. Orangutans are smart as F.
Orangutans are born with the ability to reason and think. I once watched one retrieve a nickel that had fallen 5 or so feet from her cage using a long fallen branch as a rake-like tool. What have you retrieved through a fence recently?
Orangutans, while quite solitary by nature, maintain a low and tolerable level of social interaction. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. An orangutan would never ask you how your weekend was out of obligation.
Young orangutans are very attached to their mothers, and rely on their maternal figures to educate them on everything about life. That’s some Jane Goodall shit right there. As the females grow into their teen years, they tend to travel around together in tight-knit groups because they know the males can’t be trusted (this is part fact/part assumption). The transition into adulthood marks little change; adult females associate mostly with other females and in general avoid adult males. This doesn’t surprise me considering male orangutans spend literally hours fighting over their female counterparts, who of course have no time for this as they’re too busy molding future orangutan generations and bonding with each other.
Orangutans are so similar to humans (97%), they were rumored to evade indigenous hunters because they looked so much like people hiding in the trees. How sneaky is that?
Contrary to what your 36-year-old neighbor Barry who still lives with his parents may have you believe, orangutans have the slowest process of growing up of any mammal. Most animals transition from baby to adult relatively quickly, while orangutans enjoy years-long childhoods, sometimes amounting to a third or more of their lifespans. In other words, pre-teen orangutans wouldn’t touch liquid eyeliner with a 10-foot pole. We humans have a lot to learn.
6. V considerate.
Before you go dye your hair red and set up shop in a nearby tree, don’t forget your manners. Female orangutans visit their mothers well into their teen years, even when they’ve been on their own for a decade or longer. How considerate and sweet is that?
Side-bar: are you a good person?
Orangutans spend 60% of their waking hours foraging for their next meal. And when they’re done eating, they make back-scratcher tools.
Not only do our redheaded friends build massive intricate nests to sleep in, but they do this anew every single night. If humans were that dedicated to comfort we’d each have multiple beds, or at the very least bring our down comforters with us to work. Orangutans also often build daytime nests for the sole purpose of napping. Dream species. Literally.
Did you know orangutans sometimes carry large leaves like umbrellas – or more impressively, wear them like ponchos – to shelter themselves from the rain? Are you kidding me?!
10. Socially responsible.
Although the ladies reach puberty at 8, they don’t have their own babies until their teen years, which (don’t forget!) is probably mid-30s or something in human years (scientific calculations).
If this didn’t convince you to add “become orangutan” to your 10-year plan, I can only assume you either already are one (jealous) or have a black licorice jelly bean for a heart.
*this was before zoos made me feel so conflicted
(images from google image search + other advanced human tools)