15 Stories

Wild Orangutans Now Critically Endangered

Borneo population added to red list

(Newser) - A global conservation group says Borneo's orangutans are now a critically endangered species due to hunting and destruction of forest habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates the number of Bornean orangutans has dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s and will further decline to 47,... More »

Chimps Are More Advanced Than Us in One Specific Way

Their hands have evolved more dramatically than humans'

(Newser) - Consider yourself more advanced than a chimpanzee? When it comes to your hands, at least, you might be wrong. American and Spanish researchers who studied the hands of chimps, orangutans, humans, as well as those of human ancestors and ancient apes, say a chimp’s hands have evolved significantly since... More »

Court: Orangutan Has Human Rights

Argentina's Sandra wins case to leave zoo

(Newser) - Weeks after a court in New York denied a chimpanzee human rights , a similar case in Argentina has been found in an orangutan's favor. Sandra the orangutan has lived in a Buenos Aires zoo for 20 years, frequently avoiding people coming to see her. Animal rights lawyers filed a... More »

Another Midlife-Crisis Victim: Apes

Slump in happiness mirrors that in humans

(Newser) - While you won't find them buying sports cars or having affairs with their biographers, apes are just as susceptible to midlife crises as their human counterparts, a new study claims. Researchers questioned the keepers of hundreds of captive orangutans and chimpanzees and found that just like with humans, the... More »

Medical Chimp-Testing May Be Over

Congress reviewing bill to ban all ape testing

(Newser) - Chimpanzees: valuable test subjects, or caged relatives who deserve better treatment? With a ban on all ape-testing now in Congress, the controversial practice dating back to the 1920s may soon be over, the New York Times reports. “Now is the time to get these chimps out of invasive research... More »

No More Cigarettes for Smoking Orangutan

'Shirley' forced to quit cigarettes before move to new wildlife center

(Newser) - A chain-smoking orangutan who achieved notoriety when she became a symbol of Malaysia's horrid zoo conditions has been forced to quit her tobacco habit, reports the AP . The 20-year-old orangutan, Shirley, would smoke lit cigarettes thrown to her by zoo visitors. But now Malaysian wildlife officials have removed her... More »

Girl Scouts: Thin Mints Killing Orangutans' Home

Duo protests cookies' palm oil recipe

(Newser) - America's cookie buyers shouldn't have to choose between buying Girl Scout cookies and saving orangutans, say a pair of Michigan girl scouts leading calls for the organization to change its recipe. Seventh graders Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, who have rallied Girl Scout troops across the country and... More »

Olympian to Teach Orangutans How to Swing

Animals in Netherlands zoo lose their knack for trees

(Newser) - A zoo in the Netherlands has hired an Olympic gymnast to teach its orangutans how to swing from tree branches. The zoo's previous orangutan enclosure didn't have trees, and now that their quarters have been upgraded, they seem to have forgotten how to swing from branch to branch, reports APP.... More »

Team Deciphers Orangutan Sign Language

Gestures analyzed to compile 'orangutan dictionary'

(Newser) - A bite of the air, blowing a raspberry, or a backroll means "playtime" in orangutan, say researchers who have completed the most extensive study yet of great ape gestures. The team deciphered the meanings of 40 common orangutan gestures that the animals—the least vocal of the great apes—... More »

Gorillas: Maybe Not as Gentle as We Thought

Ape vegetarian in the wild, but can turn carnivore in captivity

(Newser) - King Kong aside, gorillas have somehow been able to hold onto their reputations as gentle giants, while myths about the belligerent chimpanzee and the promiscuous bonobo have long since been dispelled. But with new research into ape behavior, the last fable may fall, the Economist reports after primatologists studied apes... More »

Whistling Orangutan Surprises Scientists

Her talent may help explain how human speech evolved

(Newser) - An orangutan at Washington's National Zoo has pleased her caretakers with a unique skill—she's taken up whistling. Researchers have previously taught apes to do so, but Bonnie is different in that she started on her own, apparently by mimicking zookeepers, NPR reports. (She also imitates workers sweeping floors and... More »

Orangutans In Trouble as Forests Shrink

Loggers, plantations bring great ape close to extinction

(Newser) - Illegal loggers and palm oil plantations may make the orangutan the first great ape to become extinct, scientists warn. In Indonesia, a mere 6,600 of the apes remain, while on Malaysia’s Borneo Island, the population has fallen 10% to 49,600, the Telegraph reports. More »

Spain Passes Ape Rights Bill

Seriously, parliament moves to protect 'non-human hominids'

(Newser) - Spanish Parliament passed a resolution promising fundamental “human” rights to the great apes, the Guardian reports. The bill enjoys wide support and would ban scientific experimentation involving higher-level primates. Zoo exhibition will still be legal, but supporters say living conditions will improve significantly. The legislative body was inspired by... More »

Laughter Also Good Medicine for Orangutans

Study finds empathy, mimicry in primates' grins and chuckles

(Newser) - Humans aren't the only animals who laugh, according to a new study. Orangutans engage in a primitive form of laughing, the BBC reports—when one exhibits a facial expression such as an open, gaping mouth, and a companion displays the same expression less than half a second later. This sense... More »

Orangutans Play Charades

Apes pay attention to whether they are being understood

(Newser) - Orangutan communication works just like a game of charades, according to new research. Orangs and other apes who use signals to communicate what they want pay careful attention to whether their audience understands their gestures—if something works, they repeat it, and if they aren't getting through they try another... More »

15 Stories