The natural home of the orangutan is the leafy rain forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, but development has devastated their numbers. There are less than 30,000 of the species left today.
Orangutans can fill us with wonder partly because they are so much like us.
But two of the orangutans at the Oregon zoo, 52-year old Inji and 18-year-old Kutai, are part of a species fast disappearing.
"All of the apes are endangered but orangutans, I think, are at a critical point right now," said Jennifer Davis, who runs the Oregon zoo's primate program.
She recently wanted to see their plight first-hand in their most important habitat.
"So I flew to Sumatra," Davis said. "I expected to see just lush tropical rainforests, and as far as I could see, it was just palm oil plantations."
Huge plantations for producing palm oil are wiping out the rainforests in Sumatra where most orangutans live.
"It 's a very, very precarious situation," said Ian Singleton, who heads the Orangutan Conservation Program in Sumatra.
Singleton said the biggest threat is the growing demand for palm oil.
"You'd be amazed just how many products it's in. It's in shampoos, it's in soaps, it's in your biscuits, in chocolates. It's everywhere," Singleton said.
So those working to save the animals are asking consumers to start looking for a label that says "orangutan friendly."
Continue reading (Incl. Video) at: The orangutan population is on the brink