05/10/2012 11:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

MOM: A Mother's Day Gift for the Whole Family

I don't know about you, but the presidential campaigns in France (where I live) and the U.S. have given me a severe case of campaign poisoning. All that meanness and greed and selfishness is just toxic.

If you've been suffering too, I have a suggestion: to lift your spirits, celebrate Mother's Day, and give your kids the priceless, lasting gift of eco-consciousness and civic responsibility...

Why not spend a day at the zoo celebrating motherhood?

Missing Orangutan Mothers (MOM)

Orangutan babies depend on their mothers for years, just like our kids do! Every year on Mother's Day, Orangutan Outreach celebrates orangutan mothers in zoos around the world. They take this special day to bring attention to the hundreds of orphaned orangutans being cared for in rescue centers in Borneo and Sumatra. The goal is to raise awareness that orangutans have been pushed to the brink of extinction in the wild and that if we don't act now to save them, they will be extinct in less than a decade.

Need a moment to think about it?

How about this moment? This is one of the orphans at Orangutan Outreach's Nyaru Menteng reintroduction center in Borneo. He didn't want to go back to the center for his nap after "forest school."


Image copyright Orangutan Outreach! Click the picture to go to their Pinterest page and see a bigger version.

If you're still not convinced, watch the Orangutan Outreach mom and baby orangutan video that melted our hearts and made us want to sell everything and move to southeast Asia to hold baby orangutans for the rest of our lives.

Below are the zoos that are holding a MOM event this year! If you can't attend one (or even if you can), there are other ways you can help:


If you happen to live in France...

For the first time, a French zoo (Zoo La Boissière du Doré) is hosting a MOM event on Mother's Day this year. I'm very excited to be going! (Details below.)

The orangutan keeper at the zoo, Dr. Marylise Pompignac Poisson, is a child psychiatrist, psychology educator, and specialist in early psychosocial development of primates -- both human and non-human.

The program she has put together for the MOM event includes:
  • a talk about orangutans during which she will also discuss findings of her research on the importance of early interaction in the cognitive and emotional development of infant orangutans,
  • a fact sheet/quiz for visitors,
  • coloring pages for the little ones.

She will be available to chat with visitors and answer questions, her book Les Orangs-outangs de la Boissière nous livrent leurs secrets will be available to buy, and you'll be able to make donations on the spot. All proceeds will go to the EAZA Southeast Asia campaign.

The event is being co-sponsored by the nonprofit org Le Jardin d'Athéna, founded and run by Dr. Pompignac Poisson, and EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria).

This year, EAZA is running a campaign to support endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Large animals in this region are in serious danger of being completely wiped out in the near future (the Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered, the Bornean orangutan is endangered). This is largely because their rainforest habitat is being razed to make room for palm oil plantations. It's all about greed.

France MOM event details

Date: Sunday, May 13
Time: 13:00
Location: the orangutan enclosure, of course.
Hotels near the Zoo La Boissière du Doré
Map of the zoo (downloadable PDF)