Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
The Indianapolis Zoo this week broke ground on a $20 million orangutan exhibit. The mayor and governor were there to tout “the most innovative zoo exhibit in the entire world.”
Well, that’s certainly a low standard. And from what I hear about the project, it sounds like just another crass exploitation of wild animals for commercial gain, pitched to the public with hyperventilated (but dubious) claims of conservation and education.
The politicians and zoo officials waxed pathetic about how the project’s features — a 150-foot-tall “Beacon of Hope” tower for which “the orangutans themselves will flip on the light switch,” the ability for children and orangutans “to create a finger painting on a screen together” — will somehow help save the endangered species. They seemed to be especially jazzed that “the orangutans will be able to travel on an overhead cable system above the zoo completely unconstrained by cages or walls.”
Orangutans will be on the loose above a crowd of kids and their parents, strolling about distractedly with sodas, hot dogs and popcorn. What could possibly go wrong?
The most absurd claim made at Tuesday’s ceremony came from the zoo’s spokesman, Jon Glesing. “This exhibit is going to have a large array of areas where the orangutans can move around as if they are in the jungles of Sumatra, and we will be able to see them in their natural environment."
“Their natural environment?” Cables strung over concrete, cages and crowds, as part of an exhibit that’s squeezed between something called a “Desert Dome” and a roller coaster? In central Indiana? At a zoo?
Orangutans desperately need help, but surely they don’t need this.