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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Nature: The Last Orangutan Eden'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: Follow a band of orangs that use tools, share food, forage together and create a distinct culture. Ecologist Chris Morgan (Bears of the Last Frontier) travels to the jungles of Northern Sumatra to document the efforts to save its wild orangutan population, which is quickly dwindling due to deforestation.

DVD Verdict: If you were not aware, and just to give you a little heads up history lesson before you dive into this incredibly interesting new documentary, the orangutans (also spelled orang-utan, orangutang, or orang-utang) are the two exclusively Asian species of extant great apes. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Classified in the genus Pongo, orangutans were considered to be one species. However, since 1996, they have been divided into two species: the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii).

In addition, the Bornean species is divided into three subspecies. Based on genome sequencing, the two extant orangutan species evidently diverged around 400,000 years ago. The orangutans are also the only surviving species of the subfamily Ponginae, which also included several other species, such as the three extinct species of the genus Gigantopithecus, including the largest known primate Gigantopithecus blacki. The ancestors of the Ponginae subfamily split from the main ape line in Africa 16 to 19 million years ago (mya) and spread into Asia.

Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in trees. But that, and the fact that their hair is typically reddish-brown, are probably facts you did already know! Anyway, here in 'Nature: The Last Orangutan Eden,' Ecologist Chris Morgan (Bears of the Last Frontier) travels to the jungles of Northern Sumatra to document the work being done to save its population of wild orangutans; quickly dwindling due to deforestation. Morgan spends time with orphaned orangs at a rehabilitation center, observing the process of teaching them the skills they'll need to be released back into the wild.

But to truly understand the complexity of wild orangutan society and learn exactly what the young orangs would have learned from their mothers in the wild, Morgan must go farther. He joins a team of experienced researchers in Suaq Balimbing, a remote peat swamp forest protected as part of a World Heritage Site. The scientists are there to study and document a unique social band of wild orangutans who use tools, share food, forage together, and create their own distinct culture.

For the first time, advanced cameras follow the orangs throughout the canopy to provide an intimate, clear picture of how these arboreal apes spend their days and nights and interact with one another. So, what makes an orangutan special? Well, watching 'Nature: The Last Orangutan Eden' will not only ensure you come away with that answer, but will also provide you with an new admiration for the red-haired step child of the jungle! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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