“Gorillas in the Mist” is a popular movie about a group of gorillas in Africa. Through this movie people learned a lot about gorillas which are endangered. The movie inspired people to care about the gorillas and to protect them from going extinct.
There is another group of primates (monkeys) which are also endangered, and they are much closer to us than Africa. These are the orang utans which live in the forests of East Malaysia and Sumatra (Indonesia). They are not quite as big as gorillas, and they have long reddishbrown hair all over their bodies.
Orang utans are very human-like. In fact, ‘orang utan’ means ‘man of the forest’ in Malay. They have humanlooking hands and feet but are much better at climbing trees and swinging on branches than you and me. Also, a mother orang utan carries her baby in her belly for nine months, just like your mummy did with you!
Sadly, the numbers of orang utans in the wild is becoming smaller year by year. Many orang utans lost their natural homes when people cut down the trees in the forests. Others get hurt by forest fires or get caught and are sold in foreign countries as pets.
In the past, some of the locals kept orang utans as pets as well. They treated these orang utans as part of their own family, putting them in clothes and diapers, and letting them eat at their dinner table. However, as the orang utans have become endangered, the government does not allow this any longer.
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