Zoo's 'amazing race' helps orangutans

By Cassandra Mason

An orangutan at Auckland Zoo. Photo / Doug Sherring
An orangutan at Auckland Zoo. Photo / Doug Sherring

More than 500 people took part in an ape-themed "amazing race" around Auckland Zoo last night to raise money for the critically endangered orangutan.

The "Great Ape Race" was part of a week-long campaign at Auckland Zoo to raise funds to help save the endangered orangutan.

All the profits from the race will go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund to help protect orangutan populations in the wild.

"The world is in a race to save this unique and magnificent great ape from extinction, and this is a fun and powerful way for Kiwis to help and show they care," says the Zoo's primate team leader, Amy Robbins.

A number of orangutan-themed activities for "Orangutan Caring Week" - celebrated annually around the world - have been organised with the theme "Safeguarding habitat for a secure future".

Organisers hope to raise awareness about the threat of palm oil plantations to orangutan populations.

The continued and illegal logging and burning of rainforests to plant the plantations in Borneo and Sumatra could mean the extinction of orangutans in the wild by 2022.

Auckland Zoo says it believes the only way to combat the rapid expansion of the palm oil industry is to reduce palm oil consumption.

"Palm oil itself isn't bad. The problem is the destruction of rainforest habitat and consequent loss of orangutans and many other rainforest species to produce it - despite deforested land being readily available to use," Ms Robbins said.

"Taking part in The Great Ape Race to support the vital work of SOCP and, as much as you can, choosing to buy local and unprocessed foods and products that are palm oil-free are great ways to help."

Orangutan Caring Week is running from November 10 - 18.

- nzherald.co.nz

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