Celebrating Orangutan MOMs on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate not only human mothers — but orangutan mothers, too!

Every year on Mother’s Day Orangutan Outreach teams up with zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and orangutan lovers everywhere for a global event called MOM — Missing Orangutan Mothers. We do this in order to bring attention to the crisis facing orangutans in the wild and encourage people to help protect them. This year marks our seventh annual MOM event and we’re looking forward to it being a very special day!

Why Orangutan Mothers?

Orangutan mothers and babies have an incredibly close relationship. In the wild, orangutans stay with their mothers until they are around seven or eight years old. Infants almost never even let go of their mothers for the first few months of their life!

Baby orangutans don’t have an extended family to show them the many life lessons of finding food, building nests and countless other survival skills. Instead, they rely solely on their mothers to teach them everything they need to know about survival in the forest before they eventually set out on their own.

Orangutans vs. Palm Oil

Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild. Thousands of them have been killed over the past few years because of growing international demand for something most people haven’t even heard of: Palm Oil.

Palm oil is in roughly half the items found on grocery store shelves. This unhealthy additive is used in foods such as cookies, crackers, chips, candies, cereals, chocolate and peanut butter, margarine, yogurt and even milk! The list is endless. Most pre-packaged food contains palm oil. In the bathroom you’ll find it in your shampoo, soap, lotions, skin cream, lipstick and cosmetics. Take a look. It’s everywhere.

With such high demand for palm oil, the orangutans’ rainforest home is being wiped out to make way for more oil palm plantations — leaving thousands of helpless orangutans with nowhere to go. Desperate and starving, they end up as easy prey for poachers and hunters.

The rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place orangutans live, and when the forests are destroyed, most orangutans do not survive. These peaceful, sentient beings are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Adult males are shot on site. Babies are literally torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets. This has been documented time and again.

Large-scale deforestation is also a leading cause of carbon emissions and a major contributor to global warming. When the peat forests of Indonesia are burned they release so much carbon into the atmosphere that Indonesia now ranks third behind only China and the US in carbon emissions. If you’re looking for a sensible way to reduce global warming and help mitigate the effects of climate change, the answer is simple: Save the orangutans’ forests.

The Lucky Ones

The orangutans who are lucky enough to survive the destruction of their forest are rescued and brought to special care centers where they are looked after by trained, professional vets and staff until they can be released back into the wild. Orangutan Outreach supports several major rescue centers that are managed by our partners: the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), International Animal Rescue (IAR), the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) and the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP). Together the centers look after upwards of 1,000 orphaned and displaced orangutans!

MOM — Missing Orangutan Mothers is a positive way for orangutans in zoos and sanctuaries to be ambassadors for their wild cousins. With tens of thousands of visitors on Mothers Day, this is a perfect teachable moment for conservation and environmental awareness.

Meet Madu & Keju

Every year we choose a special orangutan mom & baby to be the face of the event. This year's MOM banner features Zoo Atlanta's Madu and baby Keju. When Keju's biological mother at Wisconsin's Henry Vilas Zoo was unable to provide appropriate maternal care for her, zoo staff made the difficult but necessary decision to find her a surrogate mother. Although Madu has never had offspring of her own, she has an outstanding track record for surrogacy. It was love at first sight as Keju grabbed onto Madu and never let go! Madu accepted the youngster as her own and the two have been together ever since. Keju is Madu’s fourth foster child and first foster daughter. Photo of Madu and Keju courtesy of Zoo Atlanta. Fun fact: the word 'keju' is Indonesian for 'cheese'. On Wisconsin! {;(|}

How to Help

This Mother’s Day we ask you to please take a moment to remember all the orphaned baby orangutans who are missing the love and tenderness of their mothers. Together with our dedicated partners, we’re doing the best we can for them, but we need YOUR help! To learn more and help the orangutans please visit the Orangutan Outreach MOM webpage.

How can you help? Learn about the crisis facing orangutans. Visit your local zoo and say hello to the orangutans. Adopt an orangutan for your own MOM. Orangutan adoptions make great gifts! Make a donation, large or small. Spread the word! LIKE Orangutan Outreach on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Thanks for loving orangutans!  {:(|}