Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Halloween is Scary in More Ways Than One!

It’s Rainforest Awareness Week! For orangutans and many other endangered species living in tropical rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia, every day can be scary. These animals are losing their homes at alarming rates as large swaths of rainforest are being clear-cut to make way for palm oil plantations.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil used in about 50% of the products you see in the supermarket, from soaps to donuts to ice cream. Palm oil is resistant to oxidation, odorless, colorless and is semi-solid at room temperature, which gives many products a soft, creamy texture. All of these attributes make palm oil very versatile and highly sought after. Oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis) are grown in many regions in Southeast Asia on plantations, but wildlife in Borneo and Sumatra are impacted heaviest by these unsustainable farming practices. The slash and burn technique used to clear rainforest for these farms destroys crucial habitat for orangutans, elephants, clouded leopards, rhino, hornbills and sun bears. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global organization working to ensure that all palm oil used comes from sustainable sources.  This will protect the remaining forests and habitats by encouraging plantations to be planted on already cleared land and protecting remaining rainforest habitats.

So what can you do to help? One way is to pay attention to the candy you buy, especially around Halloween.  The link below shows which companies work with the RSPO to ensure they are palm oil free or that the palm oil they use is sustainable and does not cause further harm to rainforests.

If you want to do more all year round, you can learn to shop smarter when it comes to palm oil at the link below.  Our friends @Cheyenne Mountain Zoo provides a downloadable shopping app, palm oil facts and information on how you can contact various agencies and officials to voice your support and encourage them to join the RSPO.  Find the info at

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