Meet the Friska and the Cissy family

At Suaq we have two main families of Orangutans, the Friska and the Cissy family, named after the oldest female of each family. Friska and Cissy are both very successful orangutan mothers and have each raised several offspring to adulthood. Despite their old age, both are currently taking care of their youngest dependent infants: Frankie and Cinnamon, both born in 2012.

Different looks and character

Whereas the Friska family has shorter, curlier hair (that’s why in the field we call them the “frizzy hair” family), the Cissy family has exceptionally long and straight hair (“pretty hair” family). The Cissy family is known for their flexibility and expertise in tool use. Cissy and her progeny seem exceptionally curious and explorative. The Friska family strikes with their boldness and dominance: for many years Friska seems to be dominant over the other females at Suaq and regularly displaces them out of fruit trees.

How we find out who is from which family

We disentangle the relatedness of our study animals through DNA analyses based on fecal samples collected during focal follows. We are currently reconstructing the family trees of the Cissy and Friska families. Knowing the age at which orangutan females give birth for the first time (around 15-16y) and the time between two offspring (7.5-9y), the family trees will allow us to reconstruct the ages of individuals.