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Zoo’s baby orangutan helps raise awareness of threats to the species

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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By Kayla Wall


CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: A new baby makes its debut at the Phoenix Zoo. The baby orangutan is now one of five there, but as Kayla Wall reports; a popular product is destroying the animal’s habitat.

KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: The orangutan exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo is a popular spot these days. And people were lined up to see why. Resident orangutan mother, Bess, gave birth to a baby boy on Sept. 2.

DENISE WAGNER/SENIOR PRIMATE KEEPER: They’re just amazing, amazing animals, and I think people are just excited to see a new baby.

KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: After facing postpartum complications, Bess and baby were finally ready for their public debut. The birth is a reminder that these beautiful apes are endangered.

DENISE WAGNER/SENIOR PRIMATE KEEPER: It’s so so important that people understand what’s happening in the wild with animals like the orangutans, they’re losing their habitat very very quickly.

KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: Orangutan habitats are being lost in deforestation to create palm oil.

DENISE WAGNER/SENIOR PRIMATE KEEPER: About 50 to 60 percent of the items in the supermarket contain palm oil.

KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: Companies and consumers alike can look for products with sustainable palm oil or alternatives.

DENISE WAGNER/SENIOR PRIMATE KEEPER: But one person can make a difference, absolutely everybody who walks though this  door can make a difference in how they consume products in the supermarket every single day.

KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: And be sure to check your Halloween candy. Many popular chocolate bars contain palm oil.

CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: Many candy companies are now using sustainable sources for palm oil to reduce the environmental impact.