Discover 6 Amazing US Zoos With Orangutans


Written by Lev Baker

Updated: June 16, 2023

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Orangutans are listed as critically endangered but thanks to zoo conservation programs, we are able to learn more about them and help in increasing their population.

Orangutans are amazing and intelligent great apes native to the Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests. These beautiful creatures once roamed and ruled these forests. Unfortunately, the orangutan is now critically endangered. Luckily for us, many zoos house these awesome animals, allowing us to observe and learn about them and participate in conservation programs to keep the population increasing. Let’s go discover some of the best zoos in the country that provide a home to orangutans. But first, what is an orangutan?


Orangutans are the most arboreal of all of the apes – this means that they spend most of their time in trees. Their long arms and short legs help them swing from branch to branch with ease. They have hair that is a distinct reddish-brown color that covers their entire bodies. Their opposable thumbs mean these animals are great at climbing and gripping. These majestic animals are quite large, with adult males weighing around 165 lbs. and adult females weighing around 82 lbs.

Orangutans are extremely intelligent and can use sophisticated tools. They can even use their feet like hands! The orangutans’ diet mostly consists of fruit, but they will also eat vegetation, honey, insects, bark, and bird eggs. These animals live a relatively long time, with both wild and captive orangutans capable of living over 30 years! In some cases, captive orangutans can even live up to 50 years.

Three recognized types of orangutans exist; let’s discuss each of these species in-depth.

Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)

Orangutan, bornean

These arboreal primates are known for their distinctive red fur and large size.

©Marketa Myskova/

These orangutans are native to the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia and are known for their distinctive red fur and large size. They are arboreal primates and have exceptional climbing ability and dexterity. In addition, they are playful and intelligent, especially in their use of tools and problem-solving abilities. Between 70,000 and 100,000 Bornean orangutans remain in the wild.

Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii)

Bearded Animals

Sumatran orangutan are smaller than their Borneo cousins.

©Don Mammoser/

Native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, Sumatran orangutans are smaller and lighter in color than their Bornean cousins. While at home in the trees, this species swings from branch to branch with ease. Like Bornean orangutans, they are also playful and intelligent. Only 14,000 to 16,000 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild.

Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis)

Tapanuli orangutans have frizzy hair, small heads, and flat, wide faces.

©Tim Laman / CC BY 4.0 – Original / License

This species is restricted to South Tapanuli in Sumatra, Indonesia. The scientific community only recently described them as a distinct species in 2017. Only around 800 individuals exist, and they are critically endangered. The Tapanuli orangutan resembles the Sumatran orangutan more closely than its Bornean counterpart. However, the Tapanuli have frizzier hair, smaller heads, and flatter and wider faces.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo sculpture "Rex's Roar"

The San Diego Zoo houses an exhibit called “Orangutan Odyssey”.


San Diego Zoo is world-famous, located in San Diego, California. It was founded in 1916 and is one of the largest zoos in the world. The zoo covers over 100 acres and is home to over 3,700 animals from 660 different species.

This zoo is home to a number of orangutans. Visitors can see them in several different exhibits, including the “Orangutan Odyssey.” The folks at San Diego Zoo designed this home to resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible. It also allows visitors to get up close and personal with these fascinating primates. In addition, the zoo participates in conservation efforts aimed at protecting wild orangutans as well as their habitats and works extensively with other organizations and partners around the world to help ensure the future of these magnificent animals.

The San Diego Zoo is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day, including holidays, rain or shine! So, rest assured, there is always a place to visit orangutans.

Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is home to six orangutans that are part of the Sumatran Orangutan Species Survival Plan.

©Donlammers, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Denver Zoo is located in City Park in Denver, Colorado. The zoo is large, with 80 acres to explore! This awesome zoo is a non-profit conservation organization and is home to a wide variety of animals, including orangutans! It is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Make sure to secure your online timed ticket before visiting.

Denver Zoo is home to six Sumatran orangutans. If you want to learn about and observe these intelligent animals, Denver Zoo is a great place to do so. This zoo plays a large part in the conservation of orangutans; all six orangutans here are a part of the Sumatran Orangutan Species Survival Plan. Through this plan, a few of the orangutans housed at the zoo will begin breeding.

Other similar animals you may find at Denver Zoo include the western lowland gorilla, mandrill, northern white-cheeked gibbon, hooded capuchin, and the golden lion tamarin. Denver Zoo is absolutely worth a visit!

Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo is located in Fort Worth, Texas, and houses over 7,000 animals, representing more than 540 species. Spanning over 64 acres, there is so much to explore here! This zoo provides a safe and natural habitat for the animals it cares for, as well as educating visitors about the importance of wildlife conservation.

At Fort Worth Zoo, visitors can see orangutans play, swing, and climb in a replica of their natural habitat in the “Simian Springs” exhibit. Some other primates you can see at this zoo include gorillas, chimpanzees, and monkeys.

The Fort Worth Zoo is actively involved in conservation efforts aimed at protecting orangutans in the wild in order to ensure a future for them. By visiting the zoo, you can learn about the critical work done to protect them. You can even play a role in supporting these conservation efforts through donations or volunteering.

Houston Zoo

These apes live in the Wortham World of Primates at the Houston Zoo.

©Rasar90, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Houston Zoo is located within Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. This 55-acre zoological park houses over 6,000 animals from over 600 species. There is a reason why this spot is the second most visited zoo in the U.S., so be sure not to miss it! The zoo is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

One of Houston Zoo’s exhibits is the Wortham World of Primates. This exhibit lets you see some of the most amazing and intelligent creatures up close! The zoo currently houses four orangutans, including a 50-year-old female who is a Bornean and Sumatran hybrid. These orangutans live in naturalistic habitats with plenty of trees. The zoo plays a large part in conservation efforts for the orangutan by supporting people and wildlife professionals to replant trees and monitor wild orangutan behavior.

At Wortham World of Primates, you can observe other similar species, including the Siamang, the northern white-cheeked gibbon, the Coquerel’s sifaka, and the golden-headed lion tamarin. With hundreds of more species to observe, Houston Zoo will keep you entertained for hours!

Cincinnati Zoo

Orangutans reside in the zoo’s Primate Canyon exhibit.

©Mind meal at en.wikipedia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was founded in 1875, making it the second oldest zoo in the United States. Over 500 different species are spread across its 65 acres, many of which are endangered or threatened.

The zoo’s Primate Canyon exhibit is where their orangutans reside. As with any healthy habitat, this space is designed to mimic the natural and stimulating environment of orangutans in the wild. This is the perfect place to go if you want to see how orangutans behave in their natural habitat. As well as orangutans, you’ll find several monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees too! The zoo has a strong presence in the conservation efforts of orangutans; it is a forum for lecture speakers and events to raise awareness.

The Cincinnati Zoo is certainly a great place to learn about and appreciate the beauty of orangutans and many other animals from around the world. So, whether you’re a lifelong animal lover or just looking for a fun and educational outing, the Cincinnati Zoo is worth checking out.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Smithsonian’s National Zoo is home to seven orangutan that live in the Great Ape House and Think Tank.

©Quadell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Smithsonian’s National Zoo is located in Rock Creek Park, Washington. This amazing zoological park is 163 acres and is one of the oldest zoos in the country. It is home to nearly 1,800 animals and 360 species. As a bonus, admission is free!

Smithsonian’s National Zoo is home to seven orangutans. They live in the Great Ape House and Think Tank. These primates include Bornean orangutans and hybrids of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. The zoo has conservation projects that help orangutans with habitat loss – a major reason for their critically endangered status. One of the conservation projects helps advance orangutan care in Borneo. This project’s goal is to improve the health and well-being of rescued wild orangutans in order to safely release them back into the wild.

The Great Ape House and Think Tank include other primates such as Schmidt’s red-tailed monkeys, siamangs, and western lowland gorillas.

Summary Of 6 Amazing US Zoos With Orangutans

1San Diego ZooSan Diego, CA
2Denver ZooDenver, CO
3Forth Worth ZooFort Worth, TX
4Houston ZooHouston, TX
5Cincinnati ZooCincinnati, OH
6Smithsonian’s National ZooRock Creek Park, Washington
Summary Table Of 6 Amazing US Zoos With Orangutans

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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