Orangutans in popular culture

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Orangutans, two species of great apes indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia, have been the subject of multiple popular culture references. Orangutans are mentioned extensively in works of fiction, video games, and draw much attention in real life.

Famous orangutans[edit]

  • Ah Meng (1960–2008), Sumatran Orangutan of Singapore
  • Ken Allen (1971–2000) was a Bornean orangutan at the San Diego Zoo known for his escape artistry. He unscrewed bolts with his fingers, reached around things and climbed steep walls to find temporary freedom. When keepers discovered and closed one of his escape routes he would find another. At least once he was found out among zoo visitors and was led by the hand to a keeper by a visitor. Ken Allen died in 2000.[1]
  • Tom (born 1983) is known as the "king" of orangutans in the vicinity of the research base Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting. Most of the visitors that go to the area are looking for him.[2]

Orangutans in specific works of fiction[edit]

Orangutans in video games[edit]

  • In Donkey Kong 64, Lanky Kong is a Sumatran orangutan who uses his very long arms to good effect to reach otherwise out-of-bounds areas (in fact, there is a glitch in the game such that by very careful positioning of Lanky using the move he can open and enter doors that are supposed to be locked behind a keeper by touching them). A potion also enables him to do OrangStand, walking on his hands to climb steep slopes. He also appears in other related games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • In Metal Slug 3, an unnamed AI-controlled orangutan wearing diapers may appear to aid the player on killing zombies with a weapon similar to an UZI.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orangutan from the San Diego Zoo.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ http://www.gamerstemple.com/vg/games9/001144/001144r01.asp Metal Slug 3 review with a brief comment about the orangutan in the game

Further reading[edit]

  • Pollock, Mary S. and Catherine Rainwater (eds). Figuring Animals: Essays on Animal Images in Art, Literature, Philosophy & Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-4039-6512-9.
  • Rothfels, Nigel. (2002) Representing animals. Indiana University Press, ISBN 025321551X.