Orangutan at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL.
Canon 20D with 100-400mm @ 400mm
ISO=400, exp=1/30sec., f/8
The orangutans are the only exclusively Asian living genus of great ape. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. They are generally not aggressive and live a mostly solitary life foraging for food. They are the largest living arboreal animals with longer arms than other great apes. Their hair is typically reddish-brown, instead of the brown or black hair typical of other great apes.
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found only in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, though fossils have been found in Java, the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Vietnam and China. There are only two surviving species, both of which are endangered: the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii).
Orangutan habitat destruction due to logging, mining and forest fires, as well as fragmentation by roads, has been increasing rapidly in the last decade.A major factor in that period of time has been the conversion of vast areas of tropical forest to oil palm plantations in response to international demand (the palm oil is used for cooking, cosmetics, mechanics, and more recently as source of biodiesel).Some UN scientists believe that these plantations could lead to irreparable damage to orangutan habitat by the year 2012.Some of this activity is illegal, occurring in national parks that are officially off limits to loggers, miners and plantation development. There is also a major problem with hunting and illegal pet trade.