Wild man from Borneo: a cultural history of the Orangutan.

Wild man from Borneo: a cultural history of the Orangutan. Robert J. Cribb, Helen Gilbert, Helen Tiffin.

Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2014. Octavo, photographs, text illustrations, fine copy in dustwrapper.

Provides a comprehensive history of the human-orangutan encounter. Oneof the most humanlike of all the great apes, particularly in intelligence and behaviour, the orangutan has been cherished, used, and abused ever since it was first brought to the attention of Europeans in the seventeenth century. The red ape has engaged the interest of scientists, philosophers, artists, and the public at large in a bewildering array of guises that have by no means been exclusively zoological or ecological. One reason for such a long-term engagement with a being found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is that, like its fellow great apes, the orangutan stands on that most uncomfortable dividing line between human and animal. Beginning with the scientific discovery of the red ape more than three hundred years ago, this work goes on to examine the ways in which its human attributes have been both recognized and denied in science, philosophy, travel literature, popular science, literature, theatre, museums, and film. Today, while human populations increase exponentially, that of the orangutan is in dangerous decline. Those remaining in the wild are under increasing threat from mining interests, logging, human population expansion, and the widespread destruction of forests. The authors hope that this history will, by adding to our knowledge of this fascinating being, assist in some small way in their preservation.

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