AR-News: Orangutan should be in a proper sanctuary

Sat Aug 2 00:14:24 EDT 2003
Letters to the Editor - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's ... 

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 virus.

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.

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