Meet the Suaq orangutan families

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.

Friska Family

The Friska family strikes with its 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. The Friska family usually has short, curly hair, that’s why in the field we call them the “frizzy hair” family.

Cissy Family

The Cissy family is known for their flexibility and expertise in tool use. Cissy and her progeny seem exceptionally curious and explorative. The members of the Cissy family usually have long and straight hair, that’s why they got the nickname “pretty hair” family.

Chick Family

The Chick family is distantly related to the Friska family. They live south of the research area, that’s why we follow them less often than the other families. Whenever they come up into the Suaq research area we see them hang out peacefully with members of both other families.

Flanged Males

Even though there is usually only one locally dominant flanged male at Suaq, several other flanged males visit the research area on a regular basis. Currently, the dominance hierarchy is unclear: after Islo fell from his top position in 2014 it is still not decided who will be the next “King of the Orangutans”.

Unflanged Males

At Suaq there is an exceptionally large number of unflanged males. Some of them are very old, seemingly never wanting to develop flanges. The unflanged males at Suaq are incredibly sociable and like to hang out in peer groups or with juvenile females.