Monday, 11 May 2009

One of us

Isn't this picture cute?
And a rose on Mother's Day - well, that's even cuter, don't you think?

Well, no I don't. Here's the story. And it is told in such a way that things become ever cuter...until you give the story some thought. This orang-utan collected timber to aid in what was a well thought out escape plan. Just like something you and I might do were we imprisoned in a strange land as she is.

I am reminded of a story told by an old family friend who grew up in Borneo, now part of Malaysia, but then a British colony. As a teenager he joined the British army. The leader of the platoon was a white man, a British army officer. And one day he shot dead an orang-utan. Clearly the British army officer thought it made him a big man. From that day forward, the platoon of native Borneo men ignored the officer.

You see, the locals recognised one thing that escaped the ignorant educated army officer: the orang-utan was one of them. The orang-utan may not have looked like a human being or communicated like a human being but they knew - without checking the DNA connections - that the orang-utan was as near as darn it to themselves. The British army officer had killed one of their/his own species. He had murdered.

So yes I am amused by the Adelaide orang-utan's escapade - but perhaps not for the same reason as it made media headlines. I am cheering for the orang-utan. She may have been imprisoned for quite a while but she still knows who she is and where she needs to be - and it is not in a zoo. And, if zoos think they are in the business of educating the public, how has this story educated the public about orang-utan and their endangerment? If you really want to find out more, go here.


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