An orangutan’s typical lifespan is around 35 to 40 years in the wild. In captivity, orangutans can sometimes live into their late 50’s. A wild female orangutan usually researches puberty (a period of maturity where they can begin to reproduce) at about 8 years old, but are not usually ready to have their own baby until they are in their late teens. However, female orangutans in captivity have been known to produce offspring as early as 6 years old.
Orangutans have the longest childhood dependence on their mother of any animal in the world. This is due to the fact that orangutans need to learn so much so that they can survive in the wild. The baby orangutans usually nurse until they are about 6 years old. Young male orangutans may stay close to their mothers for a few more years, while the female orangutans will stay into their late teens. This allows female orangutans to observe and learn mothering skills as they watch over their younger siblings with their mothers.
Female orangutans usually only give birth about once every 8 years, which is the longest time between births of any mammal on earth! This would mean that a female orangutan would only have about 4 to 5 babies in her entire lifetime. Because of this, orangutan populations are very slow to recover from any disturbance to their habitat.