In what has become an increasingly common sight in this upscale suburb of Minneapolis, homeless orangutans have once again been spotted protesting the agribusiness giant Cargill in locations across the Wayzata, MN region.
This startling orangutan invasion escalated significantly yesterday when a mother and her baby were arrested by police in downtown Wayzata. Bystanders captured video footage of a stern Long Lake Police officer loading the refugee animals into the back of a squad car (we’ll post it soon). Their whereabouts remain unknown and it is unclear at this time what, if any, charges the red apes face. Here’s a photo of the orangutan mother and her baby just before their arrest:
Here’s another photo of the orangutan mother protesting outside of Cargill HQ earlier in the day:
Prior interactions with the authorities have occurred intermittently since this small population of desperate primates relocated to the shores of Lake Minnetonka after their rainforest homes were destroyed by the expansion of palm oil plantations.
The orangutans have been seen carrying signs that read “Evicted by Cargill. Will work for habitat.” and “Home destroyed for palm oil. Anything helps.” Prior interactions with the authorities have involved allegations of loitering, hitchhiking and panhandling, but besides an altercation with private Cargill security at the company’s executive offices weeks ago, today’s arrests were the first.
Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into the US and one of the largest traders of palm oil in the world. Critically Endangered orangutans live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. While it is uncertain exactly how these tropical animals ended up in the frigid Midwest, their appearance follows a high profile string of public advertisements by Rainforest Action Network, including billboards, full page print ads and an online campaign calling attention to the urgent crisis of extinction orangutans face due to the wholesale destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests for palm oil plantations.
Please be on alert—while orangutans pose no threat to humans, these animals are clearly desperate for their survival and unless Cargill acts quickly to make sure it stops buying palm oil that destroys their precious habitat, there is no telling what they might do next.