Amazing DIY orang-utans

Orang-utans use sticks to catch insects, but do you think they would use human tools? Watch this video and find out!

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercise. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.



Presenter (David Attenborough): You might think that this orang-utan is washing socks as some kind of circus trick for which she has been specially trained, but not so. She is doing this entirely on her own initiative. She has seen others doing it and she's copying. And that ability to imitate as well as to use tools is something which started among monkeys but has been brought to a much greater level among the apes. And those two talents were ultimately to lead to the transformation of the world.  

Camp Leakey in Borneo is home to a special group of orangs who have been rescued from captivity and returned to the wild. Because they've lived partly in our world as well as theirs they can give us an insight into what we have in common. This old lady loves DIY. So does her son, who was born in the wild. Even her infant is interested. It's very striking when you sit as close to an orang-utan as this, to see how similar they are to human beings. We are both, of course, great apes. But look how human her hand is, the skill with which she picks things up, the way that she can grasp a tool like that. The way she uses her brain to imitate what she's seen others doing. But the most important thing we share is our big brain. It's that that has produced so many of the talents and abilities that we have in common.



Task 1


Worksheet293.33 KB
Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Hello Yshc,

There is no suggestion that orang-utans will evolve into a new human species in the video. Evolution is not linear and orang-utans are not a step on the way to anything else but a fully evolved species which is a cousin of ours, not a precursor.

The presenter is showing the similarities between different great apes/hominids (humans and orang-utans in this case), not a path from one to another.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, the word evolve refers to a change that a living being (this means animals, plants, bacterias, etc) suffers due to a mechanism call mutation, adaptation and natural selection acting through thousands of years. As Mr. Peter says, the presenter does not say so, not now not in a million years. Also, there is no living being more evolved than another one, in the line of evolution every organism has its own process and has the same "degree" of evolution. So yes, a bacteria is evolved in the same way as we are (sorry to tell you this). Nature is fascinating, we only have to respect and protect it.

Submitted by OlgaTi on Fri, 26/01/2018 - 18:59

These orang-utans are very clever animals. This video proves that orang-utans are similiar to human beings. I have never seen one in the ZOO or wild. I like watching programmes about animals. Ones are amazing.

Submitted by lilimartelo on Thu, 11/01/2018 - 21:23

These Orang-utans are very smart. I have never seen one, just in TV and this last answers the last question: I like watching tv programs abput animals, specially the ones in Nat Geo.