5 Ways to Support Sumatran Orangutan Conservation

Orangutan. Photo by Francesco De tommaso from PexelsSumatran Orangutans are native to Southeast Asia and could, without intervention and conservation efforts, become the first Great Ape species to become extinct. The Sumatran Orangutan Society works to save forests that provide a home to the Sumatran Orangutan and to support those on the ground who are working to rescue, care for and rehabilitate at-risk orangutans.

Eric Mogensen, CEO of Gulf Breeze Zoo, has partnered with the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) to save and preserve the Sumatran Orangutan and its natural habitat. SOS has worked to help rescue over 132 orangutans, plant over 1.5 million trees, and educate over 18,000 people. Mogensen wanted to ensure that Gulf Breeze Zoo could assist with their efforts.

Conservation efforts to save the wild populations of Sumatran Orangutans have seen some success. In 2019, Gulf Breeze Zoo, along with their parent foundation, Zoofari Parks, worked with SOS to assist in the purchase of 180+ acres of palm oil plantations in the bid to allow nature to reclaim this area. The land was purchased specifically to provide an Orangutan buffer zone for the Leuser National Park to minimize human conflict.

With sharp population declines, Sumatran Orangutans and the SOS society are in dire need of more support.

Gulf Breeze Zoo Orangutans

Orangutans are very rare in North America, and zoos around the continent are working hard to provide a healthy space for the species to increase its numbers. Last year, Gulf Breeze Zoo acquired six of these magnificent primates. Not only are they well cared for, but they are also challenged to express themselves and to showcase their intellect.

Orangutans Brandee, Louie, Sara, Artie, Indah, and Maggie, were relocated in early 2019 from the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut to Gulf Breeze Zoo. This was with a happy homecoming for two particular orangutans, Sara and Indah. Sara had given birth to her daughter, Indah, at the Zoo 15 years ago, before being relocated with Indah to the Connecticut conservation center. Now, along with four others, they can call Gulf Breeze Zoo their home.

The group of six orangutans forms a well-rounded family, which is essential for providing the Orangutans with the social bonds needed to thrive.

Gulf Breeze Zoo was chosen specifically for its high standard of animal care, dedication to conservation, and large natural ape habitats. Their new home includes an island habitat measuring 43,000 square feet, with lots of trees and natural climbing structures. Guests can view their island via the tour-guided train or on the elevated boardwalk, giving this new family the distance and respect they deserve.

Gulf Breeze Zoo Raises Funds with Orangutan Art

Conservation is rooted in the very fabric of the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which is why they held a raffle to raise funds for the Sumatran Orangutan Society, just in time for World Orangutan Day. $2,500 was raised for the society so that, together, they may further protect the Orangutans and the forest they live in. Due to the nature of forest protection and reforestation, this effort will also improve the lives and habitats of a number of species that share the habitat with the Sumatran Orangutan. Funds will also go towards programs on the ground that work to rescue and rehabilitate wild Orangutans after deforestation destroys their home.

How You Can Support Conservation

There are lots of ways that you can further support the Sumatran Orangutan conservation efforts including:

1. Adopt an Orangutan 

Donating money through an adoption program is one of the easiest ways to support conservation efforts. Some adoption programs might include a fact pack and provide regular updates about how your support is making a difference. You can even adopt an orangutan as a gift for the animal lovers in your life. You can donate as much or as little as you want. Every cent counts when it comes to protecting these animals. 

2. Educate and spread the word 

The impact that word of mouth can create for a cause can never be underestimated, especially when it concerns raising money for an endangered species. Talk about this issue with friends and family and urge the importance of donating to a cause or why changing a few habits will make a difference. Spread awareness about the issues on social media as well so that you can reach more people. Never pressure people into donating, but explain how their money can help make a difference. 

If you wanted to, you could take this one step further and spread the word through a fundraiser event. You can raise funds that you can donate directly to a charity focused on creating a more sustainable home for the Sumatran Orangutan. Bake cakes and set up a bake sale outside your home, set up a car wash, or hire out a space that allows you to hold an event and set up family-themed activities that encourage people to donate. Advertise your event as much as you can so that you can attract as many locals as possible. 

Sometimes it’s the simple actions that you do that can make the real difference and create an impact. 

3. Avoid products that contain palm oil 

Palm oil is one of the main reasons that deforestation takes place, which is causing Sumantran Orangutans to rapidly lose their homes. However, palm oil (vegetable oil) is an ingredient that is quite often used unnecessarily within the products we buy, from pizza to donuts to shampoo and toothpaste. In order to lessen demand for palm oil, start looking at all the products you are using and pick alternatives that don’t contain palm oil whenever possible. The more people that stop buying these products, the more chance there is to stop the destruction of the Sumatran Orangutan’s home. 

4. Embrace a green life and buy FSC-certified products 

Supporting a cause such as this doesn’t mean you have to stop using paper and wood; it simply means you need to adjust where you obtain these products from. Choosing more sustainable options that take the environment into consideration will help hugely with saving the Sumatran Orangutan’s home. FSC-certified products have labels on their products that show that they come from well-managed forests or recycled sources. 

If you start recycling more, and where possible use reusable products rather than single-use (e.g., water bottles), you will also be making a difference in the long term. 

5. Volunteer 

Finally, one last way that you can help Sumatran Orangutan conservation efforts is by volunteering. Whether you volunteer your time by working directly with the orangutans in their natural environment in Borneo, or by volunteering in wildlife centers and conservations, you can contribute directly to the cause.