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Save orangutans on your next grocery run

What is palm oil? Palm oil comes from the fruit of the African oil palm tree and is grown all over the world in warm and temperate climates.

Why are we talking about palm oil? Palm oil is versatile, inexpensive and very commonplace, and it’s found in everything from snack foods and pet food to candy, shampoo, cosmetics, toothpaste and cleaning products. It’s grown all over the world, with a whopping 84 percent coming from Malaysia and Indonesia. These areas’ tropical temperatures and nutrient-rich soils make them prime cultivation lands for palm oil production, but they are also the home to numerous species of wildlife, many of them endangered. These include orangutans, clouded leopards, tigers, sun bears and wreathed hornbills. Unsustainable practices are destroying entire rainforests on the scale of about 300 football fields every hour as these properties are converted to farmland.

So why not just boycott palm oil? Encouraging sustainability is the best approach. Palm oil is found in so many household items that if we stopped using these products altogether, companies would find an alternative that might be even more detrimental to wildlife and wild places.

Now that we know how palm oil can be a problem, we can focus on the solution. Download Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide app, and use it when you shop. It’s so easy, and there are so many big companies who have already made the switch to sustainable palm oil. If you don’t use the app, you can also look for the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo. Zoo Atlanta is a supporting member of RSPO. Sustainable farmers go through a rigorous certification process and pledge to ensure that their employees have appropriate wages, education and healthcare, to dispose of waste properly, to avoid clear-cutting of rainforests when degraded land is available, and to avoid harming any wildlife that comes onto their fields.

If you’re using sustainable products, you’re already helping. Be to spread the word with friends and family. Many people simply are not aware of the link between wildlife and unsustainable palm oil.

Want to learn more?

Visit our palm oil page, and check out our YouTube video.

Come check out our palm oil education event on October 20 from 10 to 2 p.m. during Boo at the Zoo!

You can also learn more and take home your own conservation tool at one of our free Conservation Workshop programs, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Themes changes each month and October is all about palm oil! We look forward to seeing you soon!
Carissa Bishop
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl