Despite the many things that orangutans share in common with humans, including 97 percent of their DNA, family structure, and ability to understand and process their feelings, most people don’t regard these animals with the respect they deserve. Sadly, this fact has led the orangutan population to become highly endangered over the course of the past few decades. While this amazing species used to enjoy a large range of habitat, their native home is now primarily isolated to the two islands of Borneo and Sumatra. And these two remaining refuges for the orangutan are quickly disappearing from right under them due to palm oil production.

This valuable oil can be found in around 50 percent of consumer goods and around 90 percent of the orangutan’s habitat has been deforested in order to expand palm plantations to reach this demand. As a tree-dwelling species, the orangutan cannot survive without the forest and when they venture onto palm oil plantations in search of food and shelter they are considered “pests” and often killed on the spot or captured and sold into the exotic pet trade. With only 40,000 individuals remaining in the wild, many conservationists believe that the orangutan will go extinct in the next twenty years if efforts to protect this species is not made a priority.

International Animal Rescue (IAR) is one of the many organizations who have made the survival of the orangutan their mission. In this video, the staff is transporting a group of rescued babies, many of which were saved from the pet trade, to their rehabilitation center. These little guys have to be carried in a wheelbarrow because, like human infants, they can’t walk or support their own weight yet. In the wild, they would cling to their mother’s hair for the first two years of life, but in their absence, they have to be transported in this fashion. While a barrow of baby orangutans might appear to be incredibly cute, it also spells a sad story for these infants.

We can all take steps to help the orangutan population and lower the number of orphaned babies by making a concerted effort to avoid palm oil in all the products we buy. You can also make a donation to help International Animal Rescue care for these orangutans and ensure they grow up big and strong so they can return to the wild one day. To learn more, click here.