Home cruelty free Baby Budi and a Bonus Rant

Baby Budi and a Bonus Rant

January 26, 2015

Hi Guys! Yikes! It has been ages since my last post.  This has been a crazy month to say the least, and I’ve spent more time away traveling for work than I have at home. Needless to say, it has been difficult finding time to post anything even though I have at least four pending that I want to get up! ANYWAY. I wanted to get this up quickly because I have been SO CAPTIVATED by this sweet baby orangutan, Budi, who is finally safe and in the caring hands of the staff of International Animal Recue’s orangutan rescue center  (thank God) in Ketapang, Indonesia.

Budi was rescued from a terribly neglectful situation in which he was being kept as a “pet.” For the first year of his life, Budi was kept in a chicken cage and fed only a diet of condensed milk.  For obvious reasons, one should never keep an orangutan (or any non-domesticated animal) as a pet.  Furthermore, one should never ever keep an animal in the conditions in which Budi was forced to live. These conditions contributed to a host of medical problems including: severe malnutrition, anemia, a metabolic disease, and malformed bones due to improper nutrition, in addition to emotional trauma. The poor little babe was without his mum and received no care or comfort. It is still too early to tell whether he will suffer permanent damage.  His tiny body was wracked with so much pain that even the slightest touch or jostle would cause him to cry out. In fact, I first learned about about Budi from a video IAR posted of him shortly after he arrived in their care.  He was nestled under some blankets on the floor, unable to move or sit up on his own.  In order to feed him, the veterinary staff had to gently prop him up so he could take his bottle. Budi cried out and his pain, discomfort, and what I could only describe as a sad weariness was written all over his sweet face.

I’ll admit, I am pretty soft hearted.Especially when it comes to animals. As I get older I’ve come to accept this trait a great strength of mine: one that defines my character and is my moral compass as I navigate life. But, at the same time, it is also a great weakness. Show me an animal suffering and it will bother me… Probably for days. I think those of you who are vegan for ethical reasons would probably relate to at least some of this. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind isn’t something I understand or relate to. I can’t “unknow” things I’ve seen and I simply feel everything. Whether it’s being kept up at night (yes. seriously.) struggling with the thought that factory farmed animals all over the world are suffering at that exact moment, or brooding about a baby elephant who lost his mum to poaching, or worrying about Budi and wondering if he has had any relief from the pain he is suffering. This can be emotionally exhausting. It would be easy to throw my hands up and feel helpless against all of this, but instead, I allow this emotional burden to compel me, and others who feel this way, to act. It’s overwhelming when you feel like you’re only a drop in a giant ocean, but small choices make big differences. These are seemingly small actions we can do in our daily lives:  going vegan, educating others about what we know, or making the decision not to patronize places like the marine mammal parks or circuses. If you want to engage these issues on a more macro level one might consider actually going into the field to volunteer or work with organizations like IAR or (perhaps more doable) by writing to your state representatives to show your support or scorn for a particular bill that would effect animals. As far as Budi goes , something about watching him in his video struck me more deeply than usual and I couldn’t get him out of my head. After spending the last few days thinking about him IAR recently posted an update reporting Budi has made small improvements and can now sit up on his own for short periods of time. He is still unable to chew, but appears to enjoy sucking on orange segments! Hooray for Budi! Budi’s ordeal is heartbreaking, but also underscores a much larger issue: the illegal wildlife trade.The scale of this black market trade is so enormous that it has brought many species to the brink of extinction and is the reason countless others are now endangered.

“… it’s the largest direct threat to the future of many of the world’s most threatened species. It is second only to habitat destruction in overall threats against species survival. (World Wildlife Fund)”

Take a step back and think about that.   Years and years of conservation efforts to bring populations of endangered species back have been thwarted and unraveled by human greed. We’re not only talking about elephants and rhinos, who are the most obvious victims of illegal wildlife trade due to the black market value of their tusks and horns. We’re talking about everything from plant and timber species to marine animals. This illegal trade thrives because there’s a demand. The reasons that drive demand are as diverse as the species illegally traded. For example, wildlife trade is a major threat to orangutans. Female orangutans are most often hunted and when they are caught with offspring they, like little Budi, are kept as pets. A species that receives less press is the Green Turtle, which is currently listed as endangered. This species is exploited for many reasons and trade in their parts remains profitable. Like other species, their parts are sought after in parts of the world for their use in traditional ceremonies and for medicinal purposes.

There is a new documentary called Racing Extinction that I’m really looking forward to seeing. It recently premiered at Sundance Film Festival and I’m hoping my local film organization, Newport Film, will host a screening this summer.  The film, from the creators of Blackfish,

“… exposes the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet.

Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight — a world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes these two worlds in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it. (www.racingextinction.com)”

Blackfish had a major impact. One that is being felt directly in the pockets of businesses like Sea World. People who visited their parks simply did not know what they were supporting and needed that extra nudge to understand why, on so many different levels, it was bad.  It is with hope that this film, although I have not yet seen it, reaches as many people and compels many more to act. A call to action, of sorts.

In the mean time, do as I’m doing and stay updated on little Budi’s progress by visiting his page on the IAR website here.

To learn more about the illegal wildlife trade, why it matters, and what you can do to help, please visit the World Wildlife Fund.

Also, please read about what TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is doing to protect vulnerable species and put an end to wildlife trafficking.

*all images in this post courtesy of International Animal Rescue.


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Carmen Mandel January 27, 2015 at 1:38 am

The illegal wildlife trade brings so much suffering to vulnerable creatures. Glad to know that Budi starts to recover, no baby and mama should ever undergo such brutality. The plight of the stolen great apes is of sad and increasig proportions, as it is the plight of every creature who falls prey to this mutli-billion illicit business.

The film looks promising; hopefully it will shed further light on the complexities of international interests and educate on compassion and sustainability. Thank you for sharing.

My Kind Closet January 27, 2015 at 2:09 am

The illegal wildlife trade is such a complex / entrenched issue; however, it’s not one that I hear many people discuss in the mainstream… I hope the film is as good as I am anticipating it will be and, like you said, will shed light on such an important issue. thanks for reading! 🙂


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