In the righthand column of my blog I have a link to a website called Zooborns. It posts photos and videos of very cute animal babies from zoos all over the world. I followed the link today to yesterday's Zooborn post, Perth's newest primate: "Don't palm us off!"
For many people, zoos are controversial. Keeping sentient animals in cages, imprisoned for their entire lives for our pleasure and edification just seems wrong, if not cruel. My own position on this is that due to human overpopulation and environmental destruction, many of these animal species will probably not survive the 21st century in the wild, they will go extinct. Zoo populations will be all that remain, despite our efforts to protect wild populations. From that perspective alone, I approve of zoos.
Zoos also help to educate us and particularly our young about the importance of these animals to our world and about their precarious existence and the need for more effort to protect them. And there have been great advances in how zoo animals are taken care of, modern zoos are a far cry from the zoos of my childhood. I remember very clearly the bears in small concrete and steel cages at the old Toronto Riverdale Zoo (which is now a farm setting with mostly farm animals in paddocks and barns).
Anyway, if you go take a look at this particular Zooborn post, you will see lovely photos and a video of a mother orangutan and her baby. Most endearing. But as well, there is an important message about how orangutans are endangered by oil palm plantations in Malaysia. The Perth Zoo has started a campaign (Don't Palm Us Off) to have obligatory labelling of palm oil in products, to increase awareness of how huge oil palm plantations cause the deaths of thousands of orangutans in the wild every year. Take a look at the (just under) 2 minute video on that Zooborn webpost.
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