(US) HI: 2 letters on Rusti the Orangutan

cathy goeggel selkie at hawaii.rr.com
Wed Jun 18 06:56:34 EDT 2003

Orangutan should be in a proper sanctuary

Corrections are required about Rusti's previous life as reported in your
paper, "Zoo's 'very manipulative' orangutan loved by many," June 14.

Rusti was removed from his mother and hand-raised for captivity purposes,
with no prior beating and biting reported. Upon arriving at Scotch Plains
Zoo, Rusti had a mate who died around 1994 from an untreated respiratory

Scotch Plains did not care for him. When the zoo was fined for keeping Rusti
in an unheated, freezing shed, the prior retired zoo owner arranged to pay
for Rusti's transfer. Rusti was to go to a sanctuary with tall climbing
towers. The Orangutan Foundation International notified the New Jersey Fish
and Game Commission and I-SPEAK (which documented the zoo's horrible
conditions and put in an abuse complaint) that OFI was building an orangutan
sanctuary with trees and spacious room. Due to that, Rusti was given to OFI.

Instead of a sanctuary, Rusti was left in a small, 1950s-style zoo cage for
six years that the USDA called "inadequate for this species." OFI now states
it will build a spacious sanctuary for him and wants Rusti left in a pen
smaller than his present one without any climbing ability until then. OK,
where did we hear that before?

Enough already. Put Rusti in a proper sanctuary he can climb trees in.
Orangutans spend over 90 percent of their life off the ground in trees, not
on cement or in a hammock to vegetate.

Marc R. Jurnove
Executive director, I-SPEAK (International Society for the Protection of
Exotic Animal Kind and Livestock Inc.)
Plainview, N.Y.
Do what's best for Rusti the orangutan

I agree with Tyris Perreira's comment ("Zoo's 'very manipulative' orangutan
loved by many," June 14) that "They don't see what he's going to have." What
we do see is that his owner, the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI),
asked the Honolulu Zoo to house Rusti "temporarily" six years ago while it
built a permanent enclosure on the Big Island for him.

We see another "temporary" enclosure for Rusti, this time at Kualoa Ranch,
measuring 14 feet by 19 feet, built without any permits. We see that there
are no real plans or proof of funding for the permanent enclosure. We see an
investigation of OFI by the attorney general's office, and we see Kualoa
Ranch's Web site advertising an "exotic zoo" in violation of current
land-use permits. We see "volunteers" as his caretakers.

We also see a very reputable orangutan sanctuary, the Great Ape Center,
willing to rescue Rusti. We see that Rusti deserves what will be best for
him - not us.

Cindy Newburg
Citizens for Humane Animal Policies

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