I have found myself to be somewhat depressed with the world lately. Not so much depressed, but I sense a definite lack of faith and hope in humanity. While doing research on orangutans last week, I found some pictures that caused me to immediately break down, and this heartbreak and feeling of hopelessness overcame me. I know it seems miniscule in relation to lots of other world problems, but the situation in Indonesia is critical. Orangutans could become extinct in as little as 10 years if people continue to cut down their homes. They are slaughtered, and burned and captured as infants for the illegal pet trade. There were even more horrifying things that I can't even bring myself to type. I couldn't take it. how can people do such a thing. They are some of the most beautiful, gentle and intelligent animals to have ever lived on this earth. But apparently cookies and crackers are more important and valuable. People don't realize that an area the size of 6 football fields of old growth rainforest, are cut down every single minute to put up palm oil plantations. Palm oil is found in 1 in 10 supermarket items. Oreos, snickers, cheezits, granola bars, chips, etc. After seeing these pictures, I refuse to buy anything with palm oil. Check your labels, I bet you would be surprised. The trade off, oil for apes, is completely mind boggling to me.
This is just one example of thousands of species who are in danger of disappearing forever. I have understood this for many years, but it is easy to turn a blind eye to the utter horror and devastation that takes place. Those pictures really opened my eyes, and the "shock value" certainly worked as far as I am concerned. The feeling of helplessness stayed with me for several days. Then I slowly realized that just by doing what I do at the zoo every day, I am making a difference. As small as it is, every person I talk to about Orangutans, Otters, Elephants, Wild Dogs, Mhorr's Gazelle, and so on, every person I touch with the stories I share, is one small step. Knowledge is power, and by helping people fall in love with the species makes a big difference. As Steve Irwin said: " If people love animals, then they want to save animals." It feels great to have a fraction of the passion and enthusiasm that the famous "Crocodile Hunter" had about saving wildlife. Sometimes I wish I could do even more.
As I mentioned, wildlife conservation pales in comparison to some of the other problems in the world. We live in an age where people can fly planes through buildings, kill thousands and evoke terror in millions of people. On the anniversary of September 11, we need to remember the little things that have been done to make this world a better place. Whatever the cause, no matter how small, every little bit helps. These acts of courage, kindness, and compassion, when multiplied by millions can transform the earth. You have to look at the good things that surround you in life, like family and friends.
What will the future hold for a child born today? Will Orangutans, and other endangered animals still exist? What progress will be made in the war on terror? Will global warming continue to threaten the planet? Time will tell. All we can give them is love, faith and hope. There is always hope... sometimes in the form of a bundle of squishy newborn baby boy, that happens to be Jarrett's newest nephew!
9-11-01 - A day we will never forget
9-11-06 - Welcome to our crazy world, Tanner!