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VIDEO: Houston Zoo Convenes Summit to Conserve Orangutans

Meet two of the zoo’s orangutans, Cheyenne and her adopted daughter Aurora.



At 42 years old, Cheyenne can’t give birth. But she’s adopted four children.

The latest is Aurora.

The three-and-half-year-old crawls off of her mom’s back. She heads straight for a bucket of food and dumps it on her head.

Cheyenne and Aurora are among five orangutans at the Houston Zoo.

“Well, Cheyenne is a very maternal individual. She loves babies. She therefore has become our star surrogate mom. She just has that love and interest in youngsters,”said Lynn Killam, assistant curator of primates at the Houston Zoo.

In the wild, the orangutan population is decreasing.

They are losing their forest homes to crops of palm oil. It’s an ingredient in a lot of food products, cosmetics and other items.

This week, the Houston Zoo has convened an orangutan summit to bring together zookeepers, conservationists and even members of the palm oil industry. They are figuring out how to better care for and conserve the endangered species.

Marc Ancrenaz is a conservationist based in Malaysia.

“I think that everybody is part of the problem. But at the same time I’m pretty positive that everyone is part of the solution as well.”

Ancrenaz says consumers can help protect orangutans by being smart shoppers and looking for certified sustainable products.

For more information about sustainable palm oil, visit the Houston Zoo here.



Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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