Orangutans share 97 percent of the same DNA as humans. These incredible primates are highly social, emotional, and intelligent, however, despite the genetic and social similarities that we might share with the orangutan, very few people recognize that human actions are leading to the demise of the orangutan.
It is estimated that there are only around 40,000 orangutans left in their native habitat of Borneo and Sumatra, and as the expansion of palm oil plantations and poaching continue in these regions, the orangutan population is only set to decline. Some scientists estimate that the orangutan will be extinct from the wild within the next 20 years if we don’t do anything to protect these animals.
In an effort to protect these primates, many zoos have launched captive breeding programs. While this might ensure that the species doesn’t go extinct, if their native habitat continues to be destroyed then zoos efforts will mean that this species can only exist in a captive environment – hardly a happy existence for this complex species.
In this video, a captive orangutan peers at a mother and her child through the glass of their enclosure. It might seem cute that the orangutan is so infatuated with the mother and her infant, but it also draws attention to the sad reality for the orangutan in captivity. Like this mother and child, the orangutan should be free to have a family and interact with others of their species in their proper, wild habitat, but for a number of reasons, this orangutan will probably never get that chance.
The orangutan has the right to live freely in their native home just as much as humans do. It is up to us to recognize this fact and learn how our actions prohibit the orangutan from doing so. Palm oil is a leading driver in the destruction of the orangutan’s habitat and can be found in over 50 percent of our consumer goods. We can all make a difference for these animals by avoiding palm oil. To learn more, click here. You can also help save the orangutan by supporting organizations that work to conserve the orangutan in their wild habitat, check out this list for more.