Orangutans are a keystone species. As orangutans disappear, it signals the disappearance of thousands of other animals and plant species in fragile tropical rain forest habitats. Conversely, by saving orangutans and their habitats, we can save those same species.
Orangutans are among the most intelligent beings to have evolved on land. As individuals, orangutans display unique and rich personalities. They provide models for human behavior, in terms of physiology, cognition, and evolution. As great apes and one of humankind’s closest primate relatives, orangutans are sentient beings that deserve respect and life.
A great alternative is to become a foster parent to one of the many orangutans that OFI is rehabilitating in Borneo! We are challenged to find funds to feed and care for hundreds of orphaned, ex-captive orangutans that need to return to the forest. Most of the orangutans in OFI’s care arrive as a result of illegal logging and the pet trade, and many arrive as infants.
1. The orangutan pet trade has contributed to the decline of orangutan populations. While illegal throughout the world, this brutal trade brings orangutans into captivity at a high price. Six to eight orangutans die for each one orangutan baby sold- the mother that is murdered in order to remove the clinging infant, the generations of offspring the now deceased mother would have produced, as well as many of the babies themselves due to poor handling, trauma in the capture process, malnutrition, and rough transport to market.Here are 3 Reasons Orangutans do not ‘make good pets’:
It is illegal. While some orangutans in the US are born in captivity, the US Fish & Wildlife Service prevents nownership and permits for individuals outside of zoological, research, and educational institutions. Orangutans in private hands, some of whom are owned and leased for commercial purposes, wind up in tiny cages, dank basements, or worse. The USFWS and the animal rights community keep close tabs on known oranguntans in order to avoid such abuse.
3. Because orangutans are so much like humans, they would pose intense challenges to ownership. Orangutans in the wild live 35-45 years, and spend up to 9 years with their mothers before becoming independent. Orangutans share 97% of our DNA, so it’s no surprise that they can also transmit and receive respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases from humans. Improper medical care can result in a high mortality rate during the first year of captivity. Orangutans are strong and determined. They can be very destructive as they search for food items or play. As they age, they would pose increasing difficulties to a human owner who cannot keep them in humane conditions.
In other words, the main concern encompasses a) insuring that wild orangutans are protected and have adequate habitat in which to survive in perpetuity, b) providing effective, safe, and humane procedures to repatriate and rehabilitate wild born ex-captive orangutans to life in the forest, c) understanding the many factors that affect orangutans: their ecology, behavior, and cognition, d) making life for captive orangutans as optimal as possible, both physically and mentally; e) educating the public, school children, and governments around the world about orangutans and the need to protect them and their habitat.
Computer models show that, because of the slow reproductive rate, local population orangutan extinctions are predicted whenever small numbers of female orangutans are consistently killed by local aboriginal people hunting for food, palm oil laborers killing orangutans as agricultural pests, or by poachers collecting infant orangutans for the pet trade
As long as their forest habitats are being converted to other uses, orangutan survival in the wild remains perilous.
Join Orangutan Foundation International. Students & Seniors can join for only $45 a year- that’s less than $1 a week. Funds support OFI essentials like food and medicine for orphaned, ex-captive orangutans. Members also receive our newsletter with periodic updates on how you can help save orangutans.
Reach out to your friends, family, and social media network regarding your concerns about orangutans and how you and OFI are taking action to save them.
Organize a small fundraiser for orangutans. We have received checks of $10, $50 and up from students and schools around the world who have raised money from car washes, bake sales, or collecting cans and bottles. Be creative and come up with a way that works for you.
Help increase future orangutan habitat by purchasing saplings which will be planted by local people in degraded forest areas outside the Tanjung Puting National Park. Donate to the Seed & Sapling Collection.
Become a Foster Parent to an orangutans in OFI’s care in Indonesian Borneo. For $100 a year, you (or your class) can help buy food, medicine and care for the orangutan orphans as they learn skills to return to the forest. You will receive a photo and biography of your foster orangutan and a certificate naming you or your class a foster parent to one of the orangutans. Foster Parents also receive updates every six months with a progress report on how their orangutan is doing as well as a new photo. Ask your teacher about participating in this program!
Write to officials in Malaysia and Indonesia about your concern for orangutans and request that they help make certain orangutans and their forests are protected. Ask them to keep supporting the work of people who are protecting orangutans in the forest. Keep the letters short and positive, and write them often.
Help patrol the forest. Donate to the Land Protection Appeal. One day’s patrol of the Park with police officers and rangers costs about $560 USD. Designate the day and try to raise funds for the patrol.
Volunteer on one of the OFI teams in Borneo. Volunteers stay for three weeks and do hands-on work, helping orangutans and forests directly.
It’s up to you to do something to help. Please take your interest and turn it into action. We hope you will help the orangutans!
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