An ape is not a monkey! They do not have a tail, however, the majority of monkeys do. Apes are capable of swinging from branches from their hands and feet, although monkeys are not able to do this. There are two families of apes: the lesser apes (gibbons) and great apes (orang-utans, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Living in Trees

Apes are generally discovered in tropical forests and are mainly vegetarian. Like the majority of primates, they are exceptional climbers and their long arms and gripping hands are perfect for swaying through trees. All great apes are on the most endangered species list because their forest homes are being cut.

Fact File

  • There are five species of great apes: the orang-utan, two species of gorilla and chimpanzee, and the bonono, or pygym chimpanzee. They are recognised for their intellect and capability to clasp things in their hands.
  • There are 14 species of lesser apes, or gibbons. They have much longer arms and use their hands as hooks to swing from one branch to another. This kind of movement is called brachiation. The apes can travel through trees at approximately 9mph.
  • The orang-utan lives in forests just on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia. Further great apes reside in forests in western and central Africa. Lesser apes live in southern and Southeast Asia.

Different Apes

Western Gorilla (Gorilla, gorilla)

ARKive species - Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
  • Height: 1.8m (6 ft)
  • Weight: 180 kg (397lb)
  • Location: Central Africa

Gorillas are the biggest great ape. They might look violent; however, they are timid and calm, except if they feel at risk. Males are more hostile than females and show off their power by standing upright and thumping their chests with their fists. Gorillas walk on all fours with their hands bent over to enable their knuckles to touch the ground. They dwell in the forest in small groups, where they consume mostly plant stems, leaves and berries.

Siamang Gibbon (Symphalangus Syndactylus)

ARKive species - Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)
  • Height: 18-22cm (7-8.5inc)
  • Weight: 24-38g (3/4-1 quarter oz)
  • Location: Madagascar only

The Siamang is the biggest gibbon; it has an astonishingly loud voice. Males and females "sing" together from time to time. The females' voice is similar to a bark and the males' voice is like a scream. Their duo can be heard beyond a 1 km (0.6miles) radius.

Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

ARKive species - Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
  • Height : 1 m (3ft)
  • Weight : 60 kg (130 lb)
  • Location: Western to Central Africa

The chimpanzee is one of the cleverest of all animals. It is one of the limited animals that use tools, using stones to crack nuts and sticks to get ants and termites out of their nests. It achieves this by stripping off the bark with its teeth, then poking the stick into the ants' nests to make them swarm out. It eats them after this. Chimps live in tight-knit groups of up to 120 animals, and young chimps remain and travel with their mothers for approximately 10 years.

White-handed Gibbon (Hylobates lar)

ARKive photo - Close-up of a central lar
  • Height : 65 cm (25 inc)
  • Weight : 5.5 kg (12 lb)
  • Location: South & South Eastern Asia

This gibbon rarely comes down to the forest grounds. It remains up in the trees, gliding through its terrain in forests by swinging from branch to branch. A male and female generally stay together for their entire lives. They live their young that leave their family to search for partners when they are ready to do so.

Bornean Orang utan (Pongo Pygmateus)

ARKive species - Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus)
  • Height : 1.4m (4.5 ft)
  • Weight : 80 kg (175 lb)
  • Location: Borneo, Malaysia

The orang utan's bright red fur makes it effortless to identify. The name orang utan is a Malay word meaning "man of forest", and this great ape spends the majority of its time on its own in the treetops. Throughout the day, it searches for food, like fruits, leaves and honey, and occasionally tiny lizards and baby bird. In the evening, they sleep on a platform that they make by weaving branches together.

Crested Gibbon (Nomascus Concolor)

ARKive photo - Male cao-vit crested gibbon
  • Height : 64 cm (25 inc)
  • Weight : 9 kg (20 lb)
  • Location: Southeast Asia

Baby crested gibbons are born with yellow fur, however, they slowly change colour as they grow older. Males become black with white cheeks, while females turn brown or grey. Crested gibbons dwell in family groups, although they might join other families to feed at a decent spot. They eat buds, baby leaves, and fruit. The fruit has to be mature and juicy!