In human infants, exploratory object manipulation is a major vehicle for cognitive stimulation as well as an important way to learn about objects and basic physical concepts in general. The development of human infants’ exploratory object manipulation follows distinct developmental patterns. So far, the degree of evolutionary continuity of this developmental process remains unclear. We investigated the development of exploratory object manipulations in wild orangutans. Our data included 3200 exploration events collected on 13 immatures between the ages of 0.5 and 13 years, at the Suaq Balimbing monitoring station in Indonesia. Our results identify several parallels between the development of exploratory behaviour in humans and orangutans: on top of a highly similar overall age trajectory, we found an increase in variability of the actions used, an increase in the number of body parts involved in each event, and an overall decrease of mouthing of the objects. All in all, our results show that orangutans progress through a developmental sequence of different aspects of exploration behaviour. In combination with previous findings from captivity, our results also provide evidence that exploratory object manipulations reflect cognitive development and might function as a means of cognitive stimulation not just in humans but across the great apes.