“I have a special place in my heart for orangutans.”
  • “I have a special place in my heart for orangutans.”
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Title: frogblog

Address: Pamela.poole.free.fr/frogblog/

Author: Pamela Poole

From: Paris

Blogging since: 2006

Post Date: April 19, 2012

I grew up in San Diego with the beautiful San Diego Zoo. My favorite parts were the reptile house and the monkeys and apes. And the elephants. At the San Diego Zoo in the ’70s, you could buy bags of peanuts and the elephants would take them from your palm with their tickly trunks. (But I don’t want to think about that right now, not when the news is reporting on the king of Spain’s decision to take time out from his country’s economic meltdown to go on an elephant-hunting expedition.) And they let kids ride on the giant tortoises and reach into a kid-level incubator to hold newly hatched chicks. That was all over by the ’80s. Bad for the animals. I respect that. But I suspect it changed mostly because of liability issues.

I have a special place in my heart for orangutans. One day I was at the zoo with my son when he was in his early teens, standing on the observation platform above the orangutan exhibit. You could watch them from the platform, or you could go under the platform and look at them at eye level through very thick glass. They are notorious escape artists. Can’t blame them. They’re too smart to be enclosed. But I guess being stuck in a zoo is better than being butchered and having your babies sold as pets or being burned out of your home for palm-oil plantations.

That day, there was an adult orangutan chilling out on a rock below the platform, just staring up at the few people up there. I waved at her and said some stuff. She was bored as hell, no doubt. She looked around her and grabbed a clod of dried dirt with dried grass sticking out of it. Then she looked up at me and gently, lackadaisically, tossed it up onto the platform, where it landed off to my right a little. I picked it up and tossed it back down to the ground beside her. She picked it up and threw it back to me. I was clapping and talking to her and laughing the whole time. We played catch for a few minutes. It was glorious. I don’t remember how or why it ended. She probably got tired of the game before I did, though.

That’s the whole story. Disappointed? You wouldn’t be if it had been you.

The other day I discovered Orangutan Outreach when my husband Vincent saw a tweet about their Apps for Apes program. We watched one of their videos and pretty much decided on the spot that we’d sell everything and go live in the jungle and hold baby orangutans for the rest of our lives. I’m crazy enough to do it. My body may not cooperate, though, unfortunately.

In any case, I’ve decided to devote most, if not all of my do-good energies to the plight of the orangutan. I think it will be good for my mental health if I focus.

You see, with social media and all the information-delivery platforms out there, I find myself overwhelmed. My bleeding heart is running out of blood. I’m losing hope and have compassion fatigue. Petition fatigue. War and disaster and hunger and racism and hate and corruption and cruelty and injustice fatigue. I constantly feel pulled in a million directions to do something. I know you know what I mean.

I’ve done only little things for Orangutan Outreach so far. Put a link to their site on my about.me page, retweeted @redapes (their Twitter handle) tweets, read up on orangutans, connected with the OO founder on LinkedIn and gave some suggestions for promoting the organization, voted for their rescue boat. Working on figuring out some expenses we can cut in order to divert that money to OO. I even managed to get orangutans on my Francophilia web gazette! I’ll do what I can with what I have.

I’m just getting started. But you have to start somewhere. You have to start. {:(|}

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