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Candy to Protect the Apes

October 14, 2010 | Tag(s): conservation, Halloween candy, Orangutans, Palm oil
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo
Sumatran Orangutan


This morning I am eating some Butterfingers, Crunch Bars and 100 Grand bars.  I am also feeding this candy and more (including Gobstoppers and Runts) to my sugar craving staff.  Is my goal to push us all over the edge and into a sugar induced coma?  No, I am educating the staff and the public on Orangutan- friendly sustainable palm oil products for Halloween. (When I "educate" I like to immerse myself in the subject matter.)

Orangutans are critically endangered.  We currently have three orangutans here at the Audubon Zoo- A young adult male “Berani”, an adult female, “Feliz” and their beautiful daughter (born here!), “Menari”.  They are amazing to observe and an important part of conservation efforts to increase their numbers. Orangutans once roamed throughout Asia-as far north as China.  Today deforestation and the spread of humans has severely limited the wild rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra.  It is only on these two islands that there are enough large forest areas to sustain  viable breeding populations of orangutans.  The spreading of palm plantations could mean the end of orangutans in the wild.

Palm oil is in many of the processed foods we eat, including cookies and candy. The demand for palm oil is forecast to double by 2020. To achieve that production increase, 1,160 new square miles will have to be planted every year for 20 years. Indonesia has 26,300 square miles more forest land officially allocated for new oil palm plantations; Malaysia has almost 3,000 square miles more. The expected thousands of square miles of new plantings on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo could kill off the remaining orangutans, rhinos, and tigers. 

 This Halloween make a conservation-minded consumer decision and buy products that are made by members of the RSPO (Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil).

I would never tell  people not to have candy on Halloween. Our children have a right to celebrate the Halloween tradition like we did.  I love Halloween and all the candy that goes with it, but I will think carefully about the environment and orangutans when I do my candy shopping this year.  I hope you do too.  People often think that they have little power in making change. That is not true, when we make decisions as consumers we can make a great impact.

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