Freed blonde orangutan girl Alba doing well


This 21 December 2018 video from Borneo in Indonesia says about itself:

Update on Alba’s Reintroduction

[Albino blonde orangutan girl] Alba [freed recently after reconvalescence] is doing very well, and has adapted quickly to her new home with friend Kika! Our PRM team has followed Alba since her return, waking at 3 a.m. before she rises to track her progress. Don’t worry, we will keep an eye on Alba and her pal.

Read more here.

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Blonde orangutan Alba freed in Borneo


This 17 December 2018 video from Indonesia says about itself:

The World’s Only Albino Orangutan – Alba

Do you remember when Alba first came to our rescue centre? Post this emoji «🙌» in the comment section if you participated in suggesting a name for her!

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Albino orangutan Alba will be freed today in a national park in the Indonesian part of Borneo island. The animal was found by villagers in May last year and kept in a cage.

Conservationists found the very malnourished and dehydrated female and took her along. From all over the world there were suggestions for a name for the orangutan. Eventually it became Alba, which means white in Latin and dawn in Spanish.

Recently, the animal has strengthened. The female has also shown that she can climb trees effortlessly. According to experts, she is therefore ready for a return to the wild.

Today Alba is released together with a normally coloured congener. They will be monitored in the national park.

Orangutans making tools, new study


This 2013 video says about itself:

A female orangutan is eating ants using a stick as a tool to dislodge the insects from a tree hole. The orangutan population of Suak Belimbing in South East Aceh is known to use tools to extract the nuts from the nesia fruit. This behavior is a sign of evolution in great apes like orangutans and chimpanzees.

The orangutans of Sumatra are threatened by lose of habitat and poaching.

From the University of Vienna in Austria:

Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish for food

November 8, 2018

Summary: Cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists have just studied hook tool making in a non-human primate species — the orangutan. To the researchers’ surprise the apes spontaneously manufactured hook tools out of straight wire within the very first trial and in a second task unbent curved wire to make a straight tool.

The bending of a hook into wire to fish for the handle of a basket is surprisingly challenging for young children under eight years of age. Now cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists from the University of Vienna, the University of St Andrews and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna working with Isabelle Laumer and Alice Auersperg studied hook tool making for the first time in a non-human primate species — the orangutan.

More precisely: Sumatran orangutan.

To the researchers’ surprise the apes spontaneously manufactured hook tools out of straight wire within the very first trial and in a second task unbent curved wire to make a straight tool.

Human children are already proficient tool-users and tool-makers from an early age on. Nevertheless, when confronted with a task which required them to innovate a hooked tool out of a straight piece of wire in order to retrieve a basket from the bottom of a vertical tube, the job proved more challenging for children than one might think: Three to five-year-old children rarely succeed and even at the age of seven less than half of them were able to solve the task. Only at the age of eight the majority of children was able to innovate a hook-tool. Interestingly children of all tested age classes succeeded when given demonstrations on how to bend a hook and use it. Thus, although young children apparently understand what kind of tool is required and are skilled enough to make a functional tool, there seems to be a cognitive obstacle in innovating one.

Cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists have now tested for the first time a primate species in the hook-bending task. “We confronted the orangutans with a vertical tube containing a reward basket with a handle and a straight piece of wire. In a second task with a horizontal tube containing a reward at its centre and a piece of wire that was bent at 90°”, explains Isabelle Laumer who conducted the study at the Zoo Leipzig in Germany. “Retrieving the reward from the vertical tube thus required the orangutans to bent a hook into the wire to fish the basket out of the tube. The horizontal tube in turn required the apes to unbent the bent piece of wire in order to make it long enough to push the food out of the tube.”

Several orangutans mastered the hook bending task and the unbending task. Two orangutans even solved both tasks within the first minutes of the very first trial. “The orangutans mostly bent the hooks directly with their teeth and mouth while keeping the rest of the tool straight. Thereafter they immediately inserted it in correct orientation, hooked the handle and pulled the basket up”, she further explains.

Orangutans share 97% of their DNA with us and are among the most intelligent primates. They have human-like long-term memory, routinely use a variety of sophisticated tools in the wild and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from foliage and branches. Today orangutans can only be found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Like all four great ape species, orangutans are listed as critically endangered (IUCN, Red List). “Habitat loss due to extensive palm-oil production, illegal wildlife trade and poaching are the major threats. Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. As long as there is a demand for palm oil and consumers keep buying products that contain palm oil, the palm industry thrives. According to a 2007 survey by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) orangutans will be extinct in the wild within two decades if current deforestation trends continue”, says Isabelle Laumer.

“The hook-bending task has become a benchmark paradim to test tool innovation abilities in comparative psychology,” says Alice Auersperg from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. “Considering the speed of their hook innovation, it seems that they actively invented a solution to this problem rather than applying routined behaviours.”

“Finding this capacity in one of our closest relatives is astonishing. In human evolution hook tools appear relatively late. Fish hooks and harpoon-like, curved objects date back only approximately 16,000- 60,000 years. Although New Caledonian crows use hooks with regularity, there are a few observations of wild apes, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, that use previously detached branches to catch and retrieve out-of-reach branches for locomotion in the canopy. This branch-hauling tools might represents one of the earliest and simplest raking tools used and made by great apes and our ancestors”, says Josep Call of the University of St Andrews.

So why do younger children struggle with this task? “Follow-up studies showed that children’s difficulty with independently finding the solution cannot be explained by fixedness on unmodified tools, impulsivity nor by not being able to change the strategy. The hook bending task represents a complex problem, for which several unrewarded steps must be performed while keeping the final goal in mind”, explains Isabelle Laumer. “Interestingly, complex problem solving has been associated to certain areas of the medial prefrontal cortex, which mature later in the child development. This explanation, besides children´s strong reliance on social learning might explain their success at a later age.”

Orangutan evolution and humans


This 2017 video says about itself:

Orangutans can explain the evolution of languagues.

Anthropologists in England claimed that the orangutans‘ voices to kiss could be a window into how modern languages ​​are formed.

According to the theory of evolution, orangutans, the closest ape species to humans, can answer the question of how modern languages ​​are formed. Anthropologists working on the subject recorded and analyzed 5,000 orangutans‘ “kissing squeak”.

Adriano Reis e Lameira found that the orangutans shriveled their lips to make sounds similar to the silent letters at the end of their analysis. Lameira stated that each lip movement is equivalent to a different message, and that this behavior can give an explanation of how the first words are formed. Following the article published in Nature Human Behavior, “The human language has a complex and sophisticated structure, and people can transfer virtually any information they want through voices”, said Reis e Lameire. … “Simply put, we use the orangutans‘ voice behaviors as a time machine, and we try to understand what kind of voices are used by our ancestors in the process leading to the formation of vowels and consonants.”

From Cardiff University in Wales:

Orangutan: How 70,000 years of human interaction have shaped an icon of wild nature

June 27, 2018

The evolution of the orangutan has been more heavily influenced by humans than was previously thought, new research reveals.

Professor Mike Bruford, of Cardiff University, was part of the team of scientists shedding light on the development of the critically endangered species. Their findings offer new possibilities for orangutan conservation.

One of humans’ close[s]t living relatives, the orangutan has become a symbol of nature’s vulnerability in the face of human actions and an icon of rainforest conservation.

But in the research paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team argues this view overlooks how humans, over thousands of years, have shaped the orangutan known today.

Professor Bruford, of the Sustainable Places Research Institute and the School of Biosciences who is a co-author of the paper, said: “This research offers new hope for how we can save the orangutan from extinction.

“Our studies show that orangutans actually have a long history of adapting their behaviour to survive in different areas, even those that have been heavily impacted by humans. This means they can live in much more varied habitats than previously thought.

“There needs to be a multifaceted approach to conservation efforts that incorporates human-dominated landscapes, reduces hunting and increases habitat quality.”

It was often assumed that environmental factors like fruit availability were primarily responsible for most features of modern-day orangutans, such as the fact that they usually live at low densities and have a restricted geographic distribution.

But the study indicates the orangutan that existed before modern humans arrived in Southeast Asia 70,000 years ago may have been quite different.

Lead author Stephanie Spehar, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, said: “Our synthesis of fossil, archeological, genetic and behavioral evidence indicates that long-term interactions with humans shaped orangutans in some pretty profound ways.”

These creatures were once far more widespread and abundant, with orangutan teeth among the most common animal remains in deposits in China, Thailand and Vietnam. They weathered many environmental changes and may even have lived in a wider range of environments than their modern counterparts.

Today, the orangutan is only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Studies of the species living in heavily human-impacted habitats, such as oil palm and forestry plantations, highlight that the apes can adapt to survive in such areas, at least in the short term.

It had always been assumed that orangutans were mostly arboreal, but camera traps in the forest showed they also walk extensively on the ground in some areas. The team is calling for these findings to be applied to conservation efforts immediately.

Professor Bruford added: “Although much effort has already been made to understand the endangered orangutan, this latest study shows that much work still needs to be done to ensure conservation strategies are as robust and wide-ranging as possible. Only then will we stand a fighting chance of preventing this incredibly important animal from being wiped out.”

World’s oldest Sumatran orangutan, RIP


This video from Perth Zoo in Australia says about itself:

Farewell to the Oldest Sumatran Orangutan in the World!

18 June 2018

Yesterday the Zoo family farewelled Puan, the oldest orangutan in the world, due to age related complications.

Puan was one of a kind, an individual to the end. She was a grand old lady who demanded respect and earned respect.

As the founder of our world-renowned breeding program her legacy is phenomenal with descendants living all over the world.

Rest in peace Puan, may you climb happily in the jungles of the sky.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Her offspring have been placed in other zoos all over the world, some of them have been placed back in the wild.

Puan received an entry in the Guinness Book of Records in 2016 because of her old age. Adult animals of the endangered species are rarely older than 50 years in the wild.

Breeding program

According to the World Wildlife Fund, some 14,600 Sumatran orangutans live in the wild. The species is threatened by poaching and deforestation.

Perth Zoo has an extensive breeding program with the aim to place as many young animals as possible back in their original habitat.