Monthly Archives: April 2012

Scout UNLESS Contest

Fussner TroopScout badges. We’ve all seen them; sewn on sashes proudly draped across the girls’ iconic green jumpers or prominently displayed against the midnight blue of the boys’ uniform shirts. They provide a glimpse into the many talents of their wearers and a reminder that with a little ingenuity and perseverance anything is possible – even saving orangutans.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of all ages competed in the Scout UNLESS Contest to raise awareness about the connection of palm oil to the survival of orangutans. The younger Scouts – Daisies, Brownies and Cubs – used artwork as their instrument while the older set created Public Service Announcements (PSAs). In recognition of their leadership, the winning artwork will be used to create a signature badge that Scouts can continue to earn at the Zoo while the first place PSA will be posted on our website.

Though the top three winners in each category will be featured over the weeks ahead, we encourage you to view all of the artwork and multimedia submitted. Enjoy!

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Trouble in Tripa Continues

Three weeks after fires set to make way for a palm oil plantation swept through the forests of Aceh, Indonesia, the root of the problem remains unresolved.
In August 2011, Irwandi Yusuf, governor of Aceh, signed a permit for palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to establish a concession. But the area covered by the permit was also covered by a moratorium on new forest concessions, at least before it was removed from the moratorium maps…translation…a permit was illegally issued for an area that was supposed to be protected which means clearing the forest is in breach of the logging moratorium in Aceh.
When challenged on the case, the courts decided they weren’t qualified to judge it and ruled in favor of mediation with the palm oil company.

So what now? The head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force has called for a probe into the concession, thanks to the international outcry spurred by the actions of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), a letter from several prominent primate researchers and a petition signed by thousands of orangutan advocates around the world asking the government to uphold its laws. But there is still more to be done. Watch this heartfelt plea from SOCP’s conservation director, Dr. Ian Singleton, to continue to help save orangutans.

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International Day of Action


calling on Indonesian President SBY to:

Take a photo with you and your friends in front of your local landmark holding a sign with a message to Indonesian President SBY calling on him to Enforce the law & save the Sumatran Orangutans and Peat Forests of Tripa and add your support to all the messages around the world calling for action not words to save Tripa.

Take the photo before 12 noon, Thursday April 26th (Jakarta time) and email to with information of where the action took place so we can compile all the images and issue a combined global press release to all our partners. The images and action information will also be presented to President SBY, Head of REDD+ Taskforce Chairman, Head of Forestry, Head of Central Police and other relevant stakeholders to show them the world is watching and wants action to enforce the law and save Tripa Peat Swamp Forests!

For more information, visit

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Orangutan Alert

April is spring cleaning month for many of us but it doesn’t have to be all drudgery. Think of the wildlife you can save if you scrub your floor and wash your windows with the right products! Check your labels to find out who makes your cleaning, laundry and dishwashing supplies. If it’s one of the companies listed here, smile and say, “Orangutan” and snap a photo of yourself or your favorite cleaning buddy using or holding the product. Then Share Your Photos with us. Happy Cleaning!

Colgate-Palmolive Company
P&G (Procter & Gamble)
S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
Seventh Generation
The Sun Products Corporation

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And the Winners Are…

The Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce the winners of the K-12 Unless Contest where students of all ages throughout the Delaware Valley region joined forces with the Zoo to help raise awareness in their school and broader community about the challenges facing orangutans. Congratulations to the following schools (see the attached video highlighting their inspirational work):

K-5 schools
Grand Prize –
Samsel Upper Elementary School
Sayreville School District

1st Prize –
Cumru Elementary School
Governor Mifflin School District

2nd Prize -
Bethel Springs Elementary School
Garnet Valley School District

3rd Prize -
Green Woods Charter School
School District of Philadelphia

6-12 schools
Grand Prize –
Chester County Technical College High School
Chester County Intermediate Unit

1st Prize -
Penn Alexander School
School District of Philadelphia

2nd Prize -
Springton Lake Middle School
Rose Tree Media School District

3rd Prize -
J.R. Masterman
School District of Philadelphia

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Kids across the Delaware Valley region have been working hard to save orangutans since last fall.

When the Zoo launched its K-12 UNLESS Contest in September 2011, we challenged students of all ages to raise awareness in their schools and communities about one of the greatest threats facing orangutans in the wild – the non-sustainable production of palm oil. Amazingly over 3,000 students from 83 different schools embraced our Challenge, quickly becoming experts on orangutans and palm oil then taking their message to the streets.  From posters to songs, videos to mascots, car magnets to cookie recipes there was no shortage of creative ideas on how to let everyone know that orangutans need our help. Student projects reached over 500,000 people through local TV, newspapers, social media, websites and restaurant billboards. Needless to say, choosing the Contest winners from so many incredible entries wasn’t easy. Our panel of esteemed judges, including Greer Richardson, Director of STEM Education at La Salle University, Larry Brown, SEDP Director for the Environmental Protection Agency and Kathy O’Connell, Host of WXPN’s Kid’s Corner to name a few, had a their work cut out for them. Who won? We can’t say until after our press event on April 16th where we’ll announce and celebrate the Grand Prize, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place winners who have worked so hard on their projects. So stay tuned!

Stroudsburg Intermediate Elementary School; 3rd GradeStroudsburg Intermediate Elementary School; 3rd Grade

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April 4 – Welcome

Hello! And welcome to the Philadelphia Zoo’s UNLESS Campaign, a joint effort between Zoo staff, field researchers and you to save orangutans. Habitat loss is pushing “the red ape” to the brink of extinction and one of the biggest culprits is palm oil – a vegetable oil that’s found in everything from cookies to shampoo to makeup. As the demand for palm oil expands across the globe, so do the plantations that grow it. Trouble is, rainforest is often cleared to make way for palm oil, triggering the exodus (and demise) of wildlOrangutansife and the release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide. This is where we come in; the UNLESS Campaign is aptly named for the haunting last line of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Though things look grim for orangutans – and they are – it’s not too late; there’s a way to grow palm oil without destroying habitat. And because palm oil is in so many of our favorite brands, we consumers can have a direct impact on making sure manufacturers use “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil” in their products. Many companies are already making great strides towards switching to “CSPO.” The UNLESS Campaign will encourage them to stay on track by thanking them and letting them know “someone like you cares.” The Campaign will also keep you informed about what’s happening in Sumatra and Borneo (where the orangutans live) and give you tools to spread the word, get others involved and share all the amazing stories of what you’ve accomplished. We hope you’ll join us and your fellow orangutan advocates. Together we can save them.

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Tripa Petition

April 4 – Tripa Petition

There’s an urgent situation going on in Sumatra and we need your help in spreading the word to your colleagues, friends and family. The more publicity and signatures we can bring to this, the greater the chance of survival for the orangutans.A firestorm is sweeping across protected forests of the Tripa peat swamps, an area that is home to some of the most important orangutan populations anywhere on earth. The fires have been set as part of the illegal expansion of palm oil plantations and are burning within a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection in Indonesia known as the Leuser Ecosystem.

Philadelphia Zoo partner, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), has alerted us to the situation and is asking for our help in getting signatures from around the world to convince the Indonesian government to uphold their own laws and stop this illegal activity.

SOCP has flown over Tripa and been on the ground in the last few days and have witnessed two concessions working to destroy as much forest as fast as they can. The orangutan population living in the peat swamp forest is all that remains of Tripa’s population of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and will be gone altogether before the end of 2012 if this current pace is maintained.

Please sign and forward this petition to as many people as you can as quickly as possible - Online Petition: Enforce the law protecting Tripa Peat Swamp and its Orangutan populations

This video shows what’s going on now in Aceh, the province in Northern Sumatra where Tripa is located:

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