Houston Zoo hosts orangutan experts

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HOUSTON, Tx. -- Carol Sodaro of the Brookfield Zoo, outside of Chicago gives us her thoughts on orangutans, "I think orangutans are really one of my most favorite animals. They are smart. They are beautiful, playful, sweet. They’re just so special.”

Too bad we’re wiping them off the face of the earth.

Experts from around the world have gathered at the Houston Zoo to discuss issues the Pongos are facing like forest fragmentation and palm oil deforestation. You might not have heard of palm oil but the odds are good, you’ve eaten it. Its vegetable oil and it’s used in almost anything that has a shelf life- packaged or canned.

“Orangutans are losing their homes to palm oil because the land needs to be deforested before the palm oil can be planted" says Sodaro.

“There’s deforestation and forest fragments, so you’ve got these little isolated populations of orangutans that can’t get to one another. So those populations, there’s no connection so there’s no way for them to breed” explains Lori Perkins from Zoo Atlanta.

All the orangutans in the world wouldn’t fill in NRG Stadium- there’d be more than 20,000 seats left.

Marc Ancrenaz lives in Borneo and runs the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program and she says, “Everyone is part of the problem but everyone is part of the solution as well and everybody can make a difference.”

There are apps and websites designed to help you find orangutan friendly products made with sustainable palm oil. Just search for them. They're easy to use. “You can either scan your food or your products with the bar code and figure out which is sustainably grown” says Lynn Killam, Assistant Curator of Primates at the Houston Zoo.

By choosing sustainable palm oil, people can stop “monkeying around” with the orangutans.