Orangutans with Fabric

By Leslie Field, Lead Zoo Keeper

In the media chimps get all the glory when it comes to intelligence. And yes I have to admit they are very bright but orangutans are the deep thinkers. It's like your kids - one is great at algebra and the other loves geometry. Orangs love "geometry". They are always thinking about how to make one thing from another, how can they use it if turned "this way" and how can they manipulate it. Sheets, clothes, blankets, towels are the things they love to manipulate because the possibilities of creating, changing or making something from those items is endless!

Orangs in the wild also manipulate the things they have in their environment - large leaves and fronds become umbrellas for the sun or rain, chewed up plant matter become sponges to extract rain water for drinking from tree cavities and branches and foliage become beds at night.

The orangs at the Sacramento Zoo love their "fabric" and with it they create covers to cool them in the summer, a cushy cushion to rest on, a sling around a tree branch to use as a hammock and sometimes just to play and roll in.

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