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Auckland Zoo says “Don’t Palm Us Off”

Auckland City Council
Media release
4 November 2009

Auckland Zoo says “Don’t Palm Us Off”

Auckland Zoo is calling on Kiwis to get behind its ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ campaign asking Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to legislate to label palm oil on all food products that contain the ingredient.

Palm oil production is now a billion-dollar industry. The growth of oil palm plantations in South East Asia is decimating vast areas of rainforest, displacing indigenous people, and fast driving species like the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Asian elephant and Asian rhinoceros towards extinction. Palm oil is now in one in ten supermarket products, but on most of these products, it is not labelled. It is also an ingredient in cosmetics and stock feed, and ironically, a cheap bio fuel.

“We believe people have the right to know what food products contain palm oil so that they can make an informed choice about what they buy and whether or not they want to contribute to this crisis,” says Auckland Zoo’s conservation officer Peter Fraser.

“Palm oil production is destroying biodiversity hotspots like Indonesia, which together with Malaysia, produces over 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil. Currently, the lives of up to 50 orangutans a week are being lost in Borneo and Sumatra. If the current rate of palm oil production continues, this magnificent great ape could be extinct within 10 years, and we will see the further loss of many other invaluable fauna and flora.

“The only way we are going to help reverse this situation is to reduce our consumption of palm oil. We hope that New Zealanders who care about wildlife and the health of the planet, and ultimately their own health, will want to join with us. All people have to do is sign our ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ online petition, or if visiting the zoo, fill out a ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ postcard and place in one of the onsite post boxes,” says Mr Fraser

The zoo’s website also has a Palm Oil Free Shopping Guide, which is regularly updated.
“Some of the world’s iconic species could well be driven to extinction by palm oil consumption. As consumers we all have the power to make choices to ensure that our wildlife and wild places are preserved for future generations,” says Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken.

“Here at Auckland Zoo our goal is to be palm oil free, and part of this process is working with our external partners to also work towards becoming palm oil free.”

As Auckland Zoo launches its ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ campaign, it is also celebrating Orangutan Caring Week with a range of events. On 11 November, Aucklanders have the rare opportunity to attend a special presentation by Sumatran-based Dr Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) – a project Auckland Zoo has supported for the past seven years. Dr Singleton will talk about the current situation facing orangutans in the wild and the work being done to save them.

Event details

• Madju’s Birthday, Saturday 7 November, 10am – 3pm. Rain date - Sunday 8 November. Normal Zoo admission prices apply. Friends of the Zoo, free.

• Saving the Orangutan – an evening with Dr Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, Wednesday 11 November, 6.30pm – 9.15pm at Unitec Lecture Theatre 1018 (Building 23). Cost $25 per person (includes refreshments). To book, phone (09) 360 3805

• The Great Ape Race, Thursday 12 November, 6pm – 9pm. Rain date - Friday 13 November. Cost $25 adults, $10 children. Pre-registering required. Visit www.aucklandzoo.co.nz or phone (09) 360 3805. All profits supporting orangutan conservation.

Auckland Zoo is an enterprise of Auckland City Council. It is home to the largest collection of native and exotic wildlife species in New Zealand (over 770 animals and 135 species) and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It is becoming increasingly well known nationally and internationally through the award-winning television programme, 'The Zoo'. At the heart of all Auckland Zoo's work and activities is its mission: "to focus the Zoo’s resources to benefit conservation and provide exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment". Auckland Zoo is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).


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