MADISON, Wis. - The local Henry Vilas Zoo regularly hosts events honoring its animals, but Monday's Orangutan Conservation Day went beyond just fun and festivities.
The red-haired primates are on the endangered species list because their habitat is being destroyed through deforestation. Orangutans live in Borneo and Sumatra in southeastern Asia, and the rainforests they live in are being chopped down for palm oil.
Zoo manager Beth Petersen said palm oil is found in many commonly used products, such as milk and shampoos. It's at a high demand, and it's cheap.
"One of the greatest ways of making a difference is just be more mindful of the products that you use and the impact that they have," Petersen said. "When you're a consumer and you have money to spend, you should know how you're spending your money and the consequences that might come from it."
Petersen said removing all palm oil and palm oil products from one's life can be difficult. However, she said even buying products that use sustainable palm oil are better and can make a positive difference.
In an effort to inform the public of orangutans, Henry Vilas held information booths and talks by its zookeepers. For the orangutans themselves, named Chelsea, Datu and Kawan, they enjoyed orangutan-safe streamers and new toys for this special day.
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