Orangutans that were rescued and are in sanctuaries are staying put because of coronavirus. About 300 rescued orangutans were scheduled to be released into the wild but their release has been delayed.

Scientists fear that great apes like orangutans could get the coronavirus. Because we share 97-99% of our DNA with these animals, the risk is uncertain. If one ape got infected, scientists worry an entire population could be wiped out. There’s no way to stop it in the wild.

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All great apes are highly endangered. Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said of the concern, “We are worried about this and taking it very seriously. If it happens, it will be a catastrophe.” Facilities in Indonesia have closed to the public to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has already infected zoo animals and pets.

The director of biodiversity conservation for Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indra Exploitasia said, “We are being really careful so that there won’t be any transmission from humans to wild animals. Disease is one of the threats that can cause the extinction of a species.” One center is keeping orangutans in individual cages to help prevent transmission.

Orangutans are in jeopardy due to extensive deforestation and the palm oil trade. The World Wildlife Fund lists the animals as “critically endangered.” There are now thought to be about 104,700 Bornean orangutans in the world, and 7,500 Sumatran orangutans.

You can read more about the fires in Indonesia, palm oil and endangered species on One Green Planet.

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Learn how to avoid palm oil with these resources:

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

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Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

This is a good time to reconsider our intake of animal products to stay healthy. Eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.

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Interested in joining the dairy-free and meatless train? We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Catch up on our latest coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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