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Primate Observation Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

When I visited the San Diego Zoo, one of favorite exhibitions is the orangutan exhibit and watch these amazing and charismatic apes. Always aware that they are in the presence of humans, whether it is the youngsters swinging deftly on their ropes and climbing structures, or the adults having staring matches with the humans on the other side of the viewing glass.Orangutans are in the class pongo pygmaeus and are one of the four great apes. They walk on the palms of their hands similar to how human infants crawl but they cant travel rapidly in this fashion too long. This quadrupedal locomotion is so tiring to the primates that they will start to somersault to their destination. The only way that Orangutans can travel long distances without exhausting themselves are by means of using trees. At the San Diego Zoo, instead of trees they had man made structures. The orangutans destroy the trees so the zoo had to invent something that would endure their ruff activities.Orangutans engage in human like activities like face-to-face copulation, comprehension of speech, tool manufacturing and imitation. Orangutans are similar to Gorillas in the area of intelligence and communication. These similarities are due to their common ancestry. They both also use gestural communication. Gorillas and Orangutan males posses the largest canines and display the lowest degree of male-male bonding, and have the highest degree of competition for females.Orangutans are omnivores, which means they eat a variety of meat and plants. They primarily eat fruit, leaves and small animals. However, 70% of an orangutan diet is fruit. The Durban fruit is a juicy but smelly, cantaloupe-like substance that is among one of the orangutan's favorites. They also eat flowers, bark, nuts and small insects such as termites and butterfly larva. Adult orangutans are primarily solitary, except for mother-offspring pairs. However, weaned juveniles will sometimes flock in small groups. Orangutans are active during the day, or diurnal. They live alone in large territories. This is probably due to their eating habits; they need a large area in order to get enough food and too many orangutans in one area might lead to starvation. The only long-lasting orangutan social group is the mother and offspring, who live together for about 7 years. When mating, the male and female orangutans stay together for only a few days. Males are aggressive toward each other and often fight over females. They also will stake out areas in which they claim as their territory and fight other males if necessary. The dominance hierarchy is the ranking system among the Primates. The hierarchy among orangutans is the Noayu, which is where there is a solitary male. There is marked sexual dimorphism among the orangutans. Females weigh only half as much as the males. Being lighter, females and juveniles often stay in the trees. Not only is there a noticeable difference in size, but males also possess quite a few different...

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