Shumaker said that collectively, scientists contributing chapters to the book paint a clearer picture of the flexibility and range of orangutan behavior in the wild and provide important insight to researchers working with captive orangutan populations. Though he has studied the mental abilities of orangutans for more than 20 years, Shumaker said the information presented in the book "revolutionizes my perspective and thinking into the level of variation we might expect in orangutans in captivity."
Another contributing author, Dr. Anne Russon, said the book is noteworthy not only because it systematically attempts to consider orangutan biology and conservation across the whole of the orangutan's rage, but also because of the sweeping scope of the research presented.
"It is simply vast," said Russon, a professor of psychology at Glendon College, York University, Toronto, who since 1989 has studied intelligence and learning in ex-captive Bornean orangutans rehabilitated and released to free forest life.
"It required the work of a huge number of scientists and conservationists, with a very wide range of expertise and covering a time span of more than 30 years, to develop this kind of view of orangutans," she said. "This effort identified similarities and perhaps more important, differences among orangutans that were either unknown or at best only hinted at in the past."
Though some of the data reported in the book's chapters remain suggestive because they were not collected to today's methodological standards, "that points the way forward, in the sense of indicating what aspects of orangutan biology now need attention," Russon said.
|Contact: Al Setka|
Great Ape Trust of Iowa