Experts gather at Houston Zoo as part of efforts to save orangutans

More than one hundred orangutan experts and wildlife activists gathered at Houston Zoo as part of their efforts to save the intelligent primates.

Orangutans, which are among some of the most popular characters at the Houston Zoo, are facing a bleak future in the wild as their rainforest habitats are being destroyed by humans to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations.

Orangutans are known for their intelligence. Rudy, a young male orangutan, has already raised thousands of dollars through his love for painting. The Houston Zoo auctions off his works every year to raise money for conservation projects designed to support the charismatic primates.

Stressing on the need of conservation projects, Marc Ancrenaz, scientific director at the Kinabatangan orangutan conservation program in Saba, Malaysia, pointed out that 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans are being killed every year.

Speaking on the topic, Ancrenaz said, "Orangutans are losing their forest because of human development, if they lose their forest, they lose their home. The number of orangutans is declining. We estimate that we have in Borneo 50,000-60,000, but every year 2,000-3,000 are killed."

Assistant curator Lynn Killam said orangutans share more than 97 per cent of genetic material with humans, and they have complex thoughts, problem-solving abilities and emotions just humans. But, humans are inclined to wiping them off the planet.