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.




Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 11/05/2020 - 18:33

It's talented. Not really physical, but on screens. Not really.

Submitted by Bassma on Fri, 09/03/2018 - 01:20

I enjoyed the video ...still i totally refuse to consider my self or any other human as Descendants to monkeys ..which is based on a theory had repealed and haven't been proven to be correct we from the beganing till the end lived and will live as humans
Do note that a scientific "theory" is the closest something can get to being proven correct in scientific language. It is by no means a theory that lacks sufficient proof, like the word would suggest in normal speech. As an example, the theory of gravity is also still considered a theory. We know it is true, because we can observe it, just like how we are able to observe the theory of evolution. The only reason it is called a theory still, is because it always possible for a evidence to come up that changes our view of how the theory works. You are of course welcome to believe whatever you want, but if I may; often people find it hard to believe that apes "just changed into humans". But consider that we are talking of a timespan of hundreds of millions of years for small changes to appear. Our predecessors didn't just change into humans between one lifetime, which is why it is actually quite difficult to determine how we apply the term species to this theory. What was first: the chicken or the egg. This question is not just hard to answer. It is impossible.

Submitted by Carol Nguyen on Wed, 28/02/2018 - 13:49

I love this website due to its useful and interesting things which make me love studying English more. The video shows the lovely side of animal. However, I would argue with the main idea of the video which was expressed by the sentence " we are both, ofcourse, great apes". Humans are not apes. Humans are not animals. Why did the reporter strongly affirm like that without any experiments?
In science we are indeed all considered animals. That is not such a bad thing, it just means that we are living breathings things, instead of rocks or trees or bacteria. In modern science we know that we are in fact a member of the great apes, also known as Hominidae. I recommend reading up on this, it is actually really interesting! Don't think though that just because we are animals, we are now any dumber or worth less than we were. In fact, humans are a very intelligent species indeed! Something we can be very proud of. That is why it is interesting to see how Urang-Utan behave in very similar manners as us, as we are both great apes.

Submitted by AnaCris70 on Tue, 20/02/2018 - 19:40

Animal´s life documentaries are my favorites TV programs. They are full of an amazing photography, plenty of beautiful images, and - what is more important - show how interesting are the animals: the way they live, survive and adapt to environment. If more people knows about animal´s life and how important they are for nature´s balance, for sure there would be more respect and concern about animals well-being.

Submitted by osalcedov on Thu, 08/02/2018 - 01:17

Is very wierd to me see this kind of animals using tools, but the great Apes always supraise me whit their behavior.

Submitted by Yshc on Mon, 05/02/2018 - 12:50

Nobody doubts, that big apes, and orang-utans in perticular, are (together with dolphins), the cleverest animals on the Earth. But what is the idea of this video? Does the presenter imply, that they are able to evolve into a new human species in some thousands or milions years?

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.

Submitted by Windi d on Sun, 31/12/2017 - 13:18

Hmm it's a very good video about orang utan. Borneo jungle is preservation for wild animals especially orang-utan. I have been seen orang-utan in Bandung Zoo - West Java - Indonesia. Orang utan is smartest apes in the level, because the way of thought similar with human. For example, how the lady used the soap n bathe or how her talented to use a saw in the wood or how she use a boat to travel make me amaze. It's seem sad whenever I read news about orang utan, their habits is in a dangerous, Indonesian people killed them by fire when they extend land for farming for example in Kalimantan for Palm oil, some of them killed too only for eating. They said that the baby is very good taste, ect . Well I am appreciate for the video because I am from Indonesia the information is very useful to me.

Submitted by René A Moreira on Sun, 17/12/2017 - 12:21

I think that these orang-utans are very similar with us. I´ve never seen one of them, just in filmes. I like watching programmes about any tipe of animals.

Submitted by christian93 on Mon, 04/12/2017 - 13:33

I really love animals.... they're the creation of jehova god.. although they dont have our knowdledge or the ability to think... their capacity to imitate our being is special is something great...

Submitted by Sara firdous on Mon, 27/11/2017 - 19:55

Yes, I have seen the orang-utans but never seen the things like this they are doing it in this video.It looks amazing the way they are trying to imitate the humans. Watching animal channels are great fun becoz the way the animal do n think is really different which we humans can't even imagine.

Submitted by Brigadum on Mon, 27/11/2017 - 19:46

Documentals like this one are very important to make people realise that we are more close to animals than we think and we should be against any way of hurting and capting animals....It is realy amazing to see how this orangutan behaves....

Submitted by Linnig Waltraud on Mon, 27/11/2017 - 14:10

I have never seen a real orang-utan, but this video is really amazing. You would like to play with the apes and to see until which level goes its capacities. For example could it imitate also writing words??? I don't think so, because anyway, there is a difference between the mind of animals and the mind of humans. Yes I like watching videos about animals and nature, it is relaxing!

Submitted by oakkn on Thu, 23/11/2017 - 23:04

These Orang-Utans are smart, it always intertesting having a look on wild life I mean animals lives, so from my point of you no one should hurt animals, as human , they deserve to live peacefuly. So far I have not met an orang-utan. The animals programmes are very helpful to undestand how animals live and why we should never hurt them. I enjoy the programmes.

Submitted by faustaleonardo on Thu, 23/11/2017 - 13:43

- I believe orang-utans are quite similar to humans. As we can see from the video, they can act like we usually do, such as washing socks, tie rope knots, etc although they probably do not know what they are doing. - I had never seen orang-utans in my real life. - I would definitely like to see many more animal videos.

Submitted by fahri on Tue, 21/11/2017 - 06:43

This is an unique video, I am indonesian but I had never seen like this before. Fantastic

Submitted by kamilia Elkady on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 12:31

I only see orang-utan in movies never in the real life although I'd love to. After watching this video I wondered what is the difference between apes and monkeys and here what I found: Apes don't have a tail while monkeys do. Apes tend to be larger in size and have a larger brains than monkeys. Apes live longer than monkeys. however what I found very interesting for me is that both apes and monkies can move among trees by a f=different ways so, monkeys uses their four limbs like cats and dogs, while apes using only their arms so they are more like humans or we're more like them, if we put in our consideration Darwen theory which stated that humans are driven from apes..not monkeys. the last thing I want to mention is the communication, monkeys can communicate with each other while apes can use sign and body language to communicate with people they also can solve problems in their environment.

Submitted by n.hadaeghi on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 09:16

I m crazy about animals. It was my favorite topic. The information was interesting too

Submitted by Jjr on Thu, 16/11/2017 - 05:35

Although monkeys aren't my favourite animal I find the clip about orang-utans interesting. I saw monkeys but no orang-utans. I always enjoy watching reports animals

Submitted by Georgy on Wed, 15/11/2017 - 01:27

I don,t have comment.
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