Baby orangutan brings hope for habitat protection
PerthNow: November 20, 2009
For more pictures of Perth Zoo’s orangutan baby, click here.
PERTH Zoo’s newest addition to the orangutan enclosure made her public debut today as the face of a campaign to help save her species.
Perth Zoo Chief Executive Officer Susan Hunt said the birth of the female orangutan on October 20 was cause for celebration but the community needed to be aware of the serious threat facing orangutans in the wild.
She said one of the greatest threats to their survival was habitat destruction to make way for palm plantations, which was why the zoo was supporting the ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ campaign to label palm oil products.
Palm oil is found in an estimated four out of 10 supermarket products and is often simply labelled as vegetable oil, she said.
Ms Hunt said thousands of hectares of rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia has been destroyed to create palm plantatins and hundreds of critically endangered orangutans had been slaughtered or taken by poachers for the pet trade in the process.
“Presently 6000 orangutans are dying every year. It is important that we are aware of the effect that our consumer choices are having on animals in the wild like the cousins of our newborn orangutan,” she said.
“The Don’t Palm Us Off campaign is about us being aware of the impact of our consumption and about making a difference to the lives of orangutans, and the preservation of rainforest habitats and other threatened animals.
“Signatures are being collected across Australia to be used in a submission to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) which has the power to make the labelling of palm oil mandatory.
“By collecting signatures we are demonstrating that the community wants the choice of whether they purchase products that contain palm oil.
“The campaign aims to raise public awareness of the serious threats to orangutans and other wildlife through our consumption of foodstuffs and other goods.
“It also calls for food producers to introduce controls to ensure that their products come from sustainable sources.”
Perth Zoo’s latest arrival was born on to 39-year-old mother, Puteri, and is yet to be named.
The zoo is a world leader in breeding Sumatran orangutans with 27 births since 1970. Puteri was the first of the 27 orangutans born at the Zoo.
Perth Zoo Exotics Curator Leif Cocks said Puteri and the infant are doing extremely well.
“Puteri adores the baby, cradling and feeding her when she is hungry or appears to need reassurance,” Mr Cocks said.
“The baby is now hanging onto Puteri without assistance and is strong and alert.”