-- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo leading palm oil conservation efforts among zoos and attending the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting --

November 17, 2011, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s orangutan team leaves for Malaysia and Indonesia this weekend to continue its international palm oil conservation efforts. The team will attend the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) annual meeting in Malaysia before heading to Indonesia to learn more about the Orangutan Information Center’s reforestation and ecotourism projects. They will also visit palm oil plantations and see orangutans in their natural habitat. This is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s second trip to the region. The team, Tracey Gazibara, vice president, Dina Bredahl, animal care manager, and Debbie Fenton, Primate World keeper, will be traveling for two weeks.

See photos of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s orangutan team here.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is leading the palm oil awareness initiative among zoos and was the first zoo to become a member of RSPO, joining companies such as Walmart, Mars and The Hershey Company. The RSPO is a non-profit association of international stakeholders from across the palm oil industry, including producers, processors, retailers and conservation groups. The goal is to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. To achieve RSPO certification, members must meet stringent environmental and social criteria, and protect native wildlife in the process.

Orangutans and humans share 97% of the same DNA, but Borneo and Sumatra are the last places in the world wild orangutans exist. Millions of acres of rainforest there are cut down every year to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is in everything from cookies to shampoo to pet food. However, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo doesn’t feel boycotting palm oil is the answer. Indonesia and Malaysia are countries struggling with poverty and palm oil is a huge part of the economy. Additionally, oil palms are the most productive type of all the edible oil plants and less land needs to be cleared to get the same amount of product. That’s why Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and other members of the RSPO support the use of certified sustainable palm oil. It’s a more effective and responsible choice because it comes from plantations committed to producing palm oil in a way that minimizes impact on wildlife, indigenous people and the planet.

What can you do to save orangutans from extinction? Support RSPO companies by using Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Shopping Guide when you go to the store and share the online Palm Oil Resource Kit with friends and family.

Click here for updates from Malaysia and Indonesia!