Although illegal, keeping wild animals as pets is widespread in many parts of Indonesia, and wildlife markets are a feature of most large towns and cities. People also use orangutans as status symbols to show their wealth and power.
Like all great apes, orangutans have slow life histories and, for the first few years of their lives, are docile, sweet and gentle. However, at around five years of age, an orangutan already has the strength of an adult human male and, by maturity, will be as strong as five to seven adult human males, with an unpredictable and possibly aggressive nature that makes them unsuitable as pets. At this stage, many pet orangutans are killed or kept in confinement.
The latter also applies to entertainment facilities, where orangutans are forced to perform in irresponsible show acts. The wildlife tourism industry is a global, multi-billion-dollar industry – profits that only come with indescribable cruelties. In addition, easier access and encroachment of people into orangutan forests also leads to the increased hunting of orangutans for meat, skulls and other body parts, which find their way into medicinal products or become tourist souvenirs.