Wild orangutans that come into contact with tourists show signs of immediate stress, but do not exhibit any long term stress, according to this article. Orangutans are found only in Malaysia and Indonesia, and can be seen on our trip to Borneo, which houses the largest population of orangutans in the world. By studying the stress hormone levels of wild orangutans before, during and after experiences with humans, anthropologists at Indiana University discovered high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, immediately following interaction, and then a steep drop off of the hormone in the next 24 hours.
Stress levels of wild orangutans was compared to stress levels of orangutans in zoos and shelters, and while the wild orangutans did show a spike in stress immediately, it leveled off very quickly, indicating that eco-tourism doesn't seem to be affecting wild orangutans long-term stress levels, unlike other species that exhibit a permanent alteration in stress response. The findings are a boost to the eco-tourism industry centered on the endangered orangutan.
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