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Orangutan is spoken here!

Besides drawing, I have a SUPER INCREDIBLE LARGE LOVE of the great apes (orangutans, gorillas, chimps). One of my students, Phoebe A., (a different, but equally fabulous Phoebe than I posted about yesterday!) started taking drawing lessons from me last year because she wants to become an animal biologist and wants to learn how to study and draw animals “in the field”. As you can imagine, this initial goal for her drawing lessons really got my attention!

Phoebe and I love orangutans!
Phoebe and I love orangutans!

Phoebe and I got to talking about our love of orangutans when she asked me to buy Girl Scout Cookies from her this spring. I told her I really wanted to support her being in the Girl Scouts, but that I don’t buy their cookies, because they use palm oil in their recipes. Palm oil plantations are being planted in place of the native jungles of Borneo & Sumatra, after the jungles are destroyed. When the jungles are destroyed, my friends the orangutans have no place to call home. This fact breaks my heart, so I’ve sworn off all the good stuff (candies, cookies, crackers, soap, etc.) that contains palm oil.

Phoebe A., being the compassionate girl that she naturally is, took this matter to heart. She’s written to approximately 20 companies to ask they stop using palm oil in their products; she’s written poetry about the destruction of the rain forest; she’s stopped using products that contain palm oil (imagine her will power, she’s only 11 years old!). She’s gotten the attention of Richard Zimmerman, founder of Orangutan Outreach, a friend of mine (I’m OO’s newest board member!), who has put her poetry on his website:

Kids like Phoebe A. give me hope that some of the most beautiful parts of our planet will not only be cherished by future generations, but hopefully they’ll also record that beauty by drawing it. Her steadfast actions make me wonder, what more can I do?

Phoebe’s Poem