Born to Be Wild was an amazing and inspiring movie!
Born to Be Wild was an amazing and inspiring movie! I was the true story of two "fairy godmother" animal caretakers who dedicated their lives to helping to carve a brighter future for the orphans in their care. Dr. Birute Galdikas has taken in hundreds of young orangutans who were orphaned when their mothers were killed because their habitat was destroyed for palm oil manufacturing. Daphne Sheldrick runs another, vastly different animal orphanage in Kenya, one for elephants who were orphaned when their mothers were killed for their ivory tusks. Both women have rescued hundreds of animals and, when the animals were ready, returned them back to the wild, giving them a second chance at life. At the orphanages, the orangutans and elephants practiced the skills they would one day need in the wild. Elephants learned to play soccer, and orangutans took excursions into the rainforests of Borneo to play and learn. The animals lived with humans, but they weren't trained and they were allowed retain their wildness – a necessity for successful reintroduction into the wild. Born to Be Wild was an amazing, sweet movie.
I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview Dr. Galdikas, the fairy godmother of the orangutans in Borneo.
Colorado Kids: What inspired you to help all the orangutans?
Dr. Galdikas: The eyes. The way the eyes look.
CK: What is the biggest thing that we, especially kids, should do to conserve orangutans?
Dr. Galdikas: Don't eat palm oil. People should just look at the list of ingredients and don't buy products with palm oil. Palm oil plantations are forcing orangutans to extinction.
CK: What do you think about responsibly manufactured palm oil? Do you think that makes a difference?
Dr. Galdikas: No. There is no sustainable palm oil on the planet right now. Green Peace [an environmental organization] found that a company who said they were sustainable was burning rain forest. There is currently no sustainable palm oil. Some companies are starting to make steps toward sustainability, but there is no sustainable palm oil. Some areas are raising sustainable palm oil, increasing productivity of existing areas, but there not all the areas are doing that. Some areas are and some aren't. All the palm oil is mixed together anyway, the sustainable and non-sustainable, so in the end there is really no difference, since it's all mixed.
CK: What do you think the answer to the palm oil problem is?
Dr. Galdikas: People should contribute to conservation. Don't eat palm oil. I would also want the palm oil companies to come to the orangutan rescue center, to see and interact with the orangutans. But until the companies fund conservation, I will not eat palm oil.
CK: What would you say to kids who want to go into a career involving animals?
Dr. Galdikas: Just do it. Start volunteering and getting involved.