Pet trade

It is illegal to keep orangutans as pets. Nevertheless, baby orangutans are captured and kept in private homes.


Orangutans are popular pets. They are easily trained and good company. But life as a pet has high costs. The orangutans lose their ability to survive in the wild. They often suffer from malnutrition and after a couple of years, an orangutan begins to take up a lot of space.

Often end up in a cage

If pet orangutans don’t begin their lives in a cage, they undoubtedly will end up there once they become big and too difficult to handle. It takes up to eight years to rehabilitate a former pet orangutan. Some orangutans are so damaged, traumatized or tame that they will never live in the wild again.

International trade

It is still prestigious to own an orangutan in Indonesia even though the punishment for keeping them as pets is severe. Baby orangutans are furthermore exported to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Because orangutans are easily trained, human-like and fun, they are popular to use in the entertainment industry and in amusement parks. Some are exported to zoos, which are not always legal.


Report on trade in great apes

In the spring of 2013, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published a report, which showed that the trade in great apes is more organised than earlier. Read more about the report Stolen Apes >>