Data from wild populations demonstrate that orangutans have the slowest life history of all the great apes. In this chapter, we provide an overview of reproduction and life history traits of female orangutans in the wild and captivity. This comparison of wild and captive data illustrates the variability that exists for orangutans. Wild orangutan females first reproduce at a mean age of 15.4 years, with an age range of 13-18 years, and they have a mean interbirth interval of 9.3 years. Wild male orangutans are conservatively estimated to live at least 58 years, and 53 years for females , and to date, there is no evidence to suggest that wild orangutans experience reproductive senescence. We use captive data from 2,566 individuals to show that in captivity orangutan females regularly begin reproducing at the age of 7 and have interbirth intervals that can be shorter than 1 year. We provide additional data that describe the onset and normalization of menses in a young adolescent orangutan as well as the reproductive cycles of three adult females of different ages. Although captive females routinely cycle and reproduce throughout much of their lifespan, age at last reproduction in captivity is 41, which is well before maximum female lifespan. To date, longevity in the wild and in captivity appears equivalent . The reasons for the presence of a postreproductive lifespan in captivity as opposed to its absence in wild populations may be related to management issues. The above results indicate a need for more detailed comparisons between wild and captive orangutans using similar methodologies.
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