The cultural history of the Orangutan

For four centuries, people have looked in wonder at the resemblance of orangutans to human beings. Many have considered whether orangutans should be recognized as humans, while others have been determined to assert that they are not. In the process, we have been forced to examine and re-examine our idea of what constitutes human-ness. Rousseau thought that orangutans could take part in Parisian society if only they could be got out of the jungle, but other thinkers saw them as representing primaeval savagery that real humans had risen above. From King Kong and Planet of the Apes to the lascivious Ouha of Félicien Champsaur, creative writers have explored the implications of the ambiguous status of the orangutan.