The baby was named Chocolate. I clicked the link in the email to a short video of this sweet little red orphan courtesy of Rainforest Action Network. (You can click the link here if you'd like to see it too.)
Chocolate's story really tugged at my heartstrings. I started looking around for more about him, and quickly found Paul Hilton's story of Chocolate's dramatic rescue from his "masters", who planned to sell him. "Chocolate's Road To Freedom" includes this chilling passage:
"We identify the mothers with babies, then cut down the trees around them, leaving them with nowhere to run. Then we climb the tree and using a bamboo pole, we beat the mother close to death until she falls to the ground. Only when she is unconscious can we prise the infant from her grasp. We can sell a young orang-utan into the pet trade for about [HK $800 - HK$1,600], normally to Chinese businessmen, though sometimes to military or police officers."
Excuse a brief digression for a rant:
The pet trade is a devastating form of wildlife crime. I can't help feeling a sickening wave of anger and helplessness when I see wildlife being celebrated as pets on social media. Please, don't like or share videos or photos of "cute" slow lorises, fennec foxes, pangolins, oh the list is a long, sad one.
Okay, back to Chocolate's story. It has a happy ending!
|Chocolate before his rescue.|
Photo Credit: Paul Hilton for SOCP
Hilton's team of wildlife photographers bargained to buy him and arranged to bring the money in two days. They took careful GPS coordinates and contacted the police and agencies for rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans.
And soon Chocolate was saved and getting medical treatment. But his incredible story doesn't end there.
Four years of rehabilitation and preparation later, Chocolate is a healthy adult, ready to be released back into the Sumatran forest! He is confident and shining in the dawn sunshine as he claims his freedom.
|Chocolate's Release Day!|
Photo credit: The Orangutan Project
Paul Hilton's words of hope as he describes that day:
"Too often, we as humans write off environmental issues that seem unfixable. But, watching the dawn scene play out as Chocolate swings through the trees, it's hard not to feel that there is still hope for the orang-utans of Sumatra and the Leuser ecosystem. All they really need is our commitment." [emphasis mine]
There are a few actions you can take to help the orangutans and their rain forest habitat. Can you commit to one or two right now?
1. Sign the petition demanding that PepsiCo stop using deforestation palm oil. They stubbornly refuse to pledge to use sustainable palm oil in their snack products. bit.ly/ChangePepsiCo
2. Read the Paul Hilton's story here, and then donate to support Wildlife Asia's work to protect orangutans here.
3. Download the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Sustainable Palm Oil App to your phone here.
4. Support the rescue and rehab of more baby orangutans by adopting an orphan at The Orangutan Project. Gokong here is one of the available orphans to adopt.
|Photo Credit: The Orangutan Project|
5. Watch this beautiful video, then like Rainforest Action Network on Facebook.