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Jeanette Thomas to launch The Orangutan Project in NZ


Jeanette Thomas returns from Sumatra to launch The Orangutan Project in New Zealand

New Zealand personality and host of TVNZ Good Morning Jeanette Thomas, has just returned from the jungles of Sumatra to launch The Orangutan Project (TOP) in New Zealand with TOP President and world-renowned orangutan expert Leif Cocks.

TOP is a not-for-profit organisation that supports orangutan conservation, rainforest protection, local community partnerships and the rehabilitation and reintroduction of displaced orangutans back to the wild. TOP’s objective is to save the Orangutans from extinction and ensure the amazing species can live the happy and healthy lives in their natural forests, as they deserve.

The organisation provides technical and financial assistance directly to conservation projects and orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centres. This includes much needed resources for the day-to-day care needs, the reintroduction of orphaned orangutans and the locating and securing of release sites. Presently there are over 2,000 orphaned orangutans living in care centres in Borneo and Sumatra.

Jeanette recently travelled with her impassioned daughter Charlotte, alongside Leif Cocks on a journey to Sumatra where she observed the deforestation first hand by visiting palm oil plantations and the orphan orangutan care centres supported by TOP.

The trip to Sumatra with Charlotte was such a wonderful experience and such an honour to travel alongside Leif,” says Thomas. “We've learnt so much more about orangutans being able to see them firsthand and also see the absolute destruction to their habitat caused by palm oil plantations,” she continues. “After returning from Sumatra, I feel more strongly about this cause than I've ever felt about anything. Orangutans are incredibly intelligent and peaceful creatures and they deserve respect and a place on this earth, just as much as you and I.”

Leif Cocks founder of The Orangutan Project, has worked with orangutans for more than 27 years including the most successful breeding colony of orangutans in the world, orangutan rescues and the successful reintroduction of numerous orangutans including the first two ever zoo-born reintroductions.

“We are excited to be launching TOP in New Zealand and are thrilled to have someone as passionate as Jeanette as our first New Zealand Ambassador,” says Leif.

Adopting an orangutan through TOP is a fantastic way to help these beautiful animals. Only 1 out of 6 orphaned orangutans are lucky enough to be rescued. Care of these infants is costly and requires 24hr staff, veterinary, and nurse care to ensure they are in a healthy condition and have the best chance to survive – and possibly even return to the wild.

Our family has already adopted two orangutans through The Orangutan Project. We're now adopting one special orphan we met called Dora, too. Being able to see firsthand where my money goes and seeing what's being done to get the orphans wild again is invaluable,” says Thomas.

For more information and to donate to the appeal to save Dora visit

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