For the first time, researchers have cataloged forty distinct signals orangutans use to communicate with each other, including gestures for “I want to play” and “Give it to me”. “British scientists who spent nine months observing the great apes in three European zoos identified 40 frequently used body language signals. These were employed repeatedly to send messages such as ‘I want to play’, ‘give it to me’, ‘go away’, ‘follow me’, or ‘stop doing that’.
‘Play’ gestures involved a range of clowning antics, including back rolls, placing objects on the head, and blowing raspberries. ‘Nudge and shoo’ movements meant an ape wanted to be left alone, while a hand to mouth ‘begging’ gesture requested food. Other gestures included hitting the ground, hair pulling, biting the air and grabbing.”