-- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo leads the palm oil education initiative by becoming the first zoo to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil --

February 2, 2011, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is taking the next step in making a difference for orangutans and other endangered Asian animals affected by the palm oil crisis. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is now a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the first zoo in the world to join. Membership is contingent upon a review by the RSPO, a process that took about three months to complete.

“Conservation is such an important part of what we do. It was only logical to show our commitment by supporting the RSPO,” said Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Animal Care Manager Dina Bredahl.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is working with other zoos around the country, encouraging them to show their support and apply for RSPO membership. The RSPO is a non-profit association of international stakeholders from across the palm oil industry, including producers, processors, retailers, and conservation groups. The goal is to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. To achieve RSPO certification, members must meet stringent environmental and social criteria and protect native wildlife in the process.

Millions of acres of rainforest in Borneo and Sumatra are cut down every year to make way for palm oil plantations – the last place on earth wild orangutans are found. Palm oil is in everything from cookies to shampoo to pet food. However, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo doesn’t feel boycotting palm oil is the answer. Indonesia and Malaysia are countries that struggle with poverty, and palm oil is a huge part of the economy. Additionally, oil palms are the most productive type of all the edible oil plants, and less land needs to be cleared to get the same amount of product. That’s why Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and other members of the RSPO support the use of certified sustainable palm oil. It’s a more effective and responsible choice because it comes from a plantation that’s committed to producing palm oil in a way that minimizes impact on wildlife, indigenous people, and the planet.

“It’s our role to educate people, help spread the word. Most people just don’t realize the impact of their everyday choices,” said Bredahl.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo traveled to Indonesia in 2010 to investigate the palm oil crisis first-hand. The zoo developed an online resource center to help educate the public about ways to make a difference and save orangutans. Here are three easy things you can do right now:

  1. Shop smart! Boycotting palm oil is not the solution. Instead, print off a copy of our Palm Oil Shopping Guide and buy products from companies that belong to the RSPO.
  2. Speak out! Don’t see your favorite brand in the Palm Oil Shopping Guide? We’ve made it easy for you to send the company an email about how important sustainable palm oil is – it only takes a minute!
  3. Spread the word! Check out our special YouTube video on the palm oil crisis and share it with others.

Additional Resources

Click here for Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s orangutan-friendly Valentine’s Day Shopping Guide.

Click here to see photos of wild orangutans taken during Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s trip to Indonesia.

Click here for more information about the RSPO.