Asia’s only great ape, orangutans are one of the most endangered species. Many experts believe orangutans will become extinct in the wild over the next 20 years.
Approximately 1,000 are thought to perish every year as the rainforests on which they depend are cut down for logging and palm oil production.
Originally some 300,000 orangutans lived throughout Southeast Asia. Today they survive only in isolated pockets on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In the past 20 years, 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed – and only about 2 percent of what remains is legally protected in reserves.
Orangutans (the name means “man of the forest”) are one of our closest relatives, sharing about 97 percent of our DNA. Mothers keep their babies with them for 8 to 10 years, and have a single baby every eight years or so. Their rate of reproduction – the slowest of all the great apes – makes them particularly vulnerable.
Orangutans have long been threatened by the pet trade for every one that is sold as a pet, five or six are thought to die. And they are also killed for meat.
But it is the destruction of the rainforest that is their greatest threat. It has long been cleared for logging and agriculture, but this has accelerated to meet the booming demand for palm oil. Palm oil can be found in cookies, crackers, frozen dinners, shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, pet food, and many other products, palm oil is now the most widely produced edible oil. It is also found in a wide array of products sold in natural food stores, and it is being used as a possible fuel alternative.
What the Zoo is doing?
- We assist with research and protection efforts to save orangutans in the wild.
- All candy at Zoo Boo, our Halloween event here at the Zoo was palm oil free!
- We are hosting a palm oil workshop/planning session with orangutan researchers, Zoos and local companies dedicated to palm oil free products.
What can you do?
Become an orangutan-friendly shopper:
- Read the label: so you know what’s inside
- Whenever possible, choose local and unprocessed food-this is better for your health and for the planet!
- Be an informed consumer: consult websites and blogs to find lists of palm oil free product ad support companies promoting the use and growth of sustainable palm oil products.
- Join us at the Zoo November 9th and 10th for a special orangutan caring event. Visit the orangutans and purchase orangutan painted items. All proceeds will go to saving orangutans in the wild!