Zoos and Aquariums that are accredited by the the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are active partners in the conservation community and help further conservation efforts worldwide by seeking workable and realistic solutions to conservation problems.

Donate to the Conservation Fund

Palm oil is a plant-based oil that is partially hydrogenated and used as a healthier alternative to trans-fatty acids in many common snack foods.  Commonly found in products sold in natural food stores, it is also used in beauty products and pet food, and it is even being considered as a possible fuel alternative. This product that appears to be a naturally “green” and healthy choice is actually deadly to orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and other species native to Asia and other areas where it is produced. Palm oil plantations are spreading into the natural habitats of orangutans, destroying their food sources and potentially their very existence.

Palm Oil Facts:

  • Palm oil is a form of edible vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of the African oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis).
  • African oil palms originated in West Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. The majority of all palm oil is grown and produced in Borneo and Sumatra. It is an introduced agricultural crop (not gathered from the rain forests).
  • Palm oil is the second-most widely produced edible oil, behind soybean oil.
  • In addition to being used in the food industry, palm oil is also used in many cosmetics and bath products.
  • Demand for this commodity is rapidly increasing because of recent trans-fat health concerns and bio-fuel development.
  • The majority of the world’s palm oil supply is grown in Borneo and Sumatra.
  • The deforestation rate is about 4.9 million acres of rainforest each year. That acreage equals an area slightly larger than the size of the state of New Jersey—each year.
  • There are millions of hectares of degraded land available that could be used for palm oil plantations. Instead, many companies choose to use high conservation value rainforest land in order to gain the additional timber profits.
  • After logging rainforest habitat, palm oil companies often use uncontrolled burning to clear the land. In 1997-98, a devastating fire killed almost 8,000 orangutans in Borneo.
  • Borneo is home to 13 primate species, 350 bird species, 150 reptiles and amphibians, and 15,000 plant species.
  • Sumatra is home to Sumatran rhinos, clouded leopards, Sumatran tigers, Asian tapirs, Sumatran elephants, and thousands of other species.
  • The wild population of Bornean orangutans is estimated at 45,000-50,000.
  •  There are about 7,300 Sumatran orangutans in the wild; they are on the list of top 25 most endangered primates in the world.
  • Orangutans give birth once every 6 -10 years, the longest inter-birth interval of any mammal.
  • Orangutans are the only Asian great ape; they are the largest arboreal mammal on Earth.
  • Orangutans will be extinct in the wild in the next 10 years if the palm oil industry, deforestation and burning of peat forests does not change.
  • Rainforests remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • When palm oil is produced through deforestation, the burning peat soil and loss of rainforest causes an increase in greenhouse gasses.
  • Other types of vegetable oil may offer more sustainable solutions for Biofuel.

In response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably produced palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders.

What can you do?

Other websites with palm oil information:

Photos taken by: Raylene Silver

  • Check labels when you shop. If a product you buy contains palm oil, e-mail the company and encouraged the use of sustainable palm oil.
    Make an effort to purchase products from companies that are members of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil. (For a list of companies visit this website:
  • Promote better labeling.  Encourage RSPO companies to label products with an “Orangutan Friendly” label, just like the “Dolphin Safe” tuna labeling.  Please have the label include the percentage of certified sustainable palm oil the product contains.  (For example: 50% certified sustainable palm oil was used in this product.)
  • Write to US Government Officials.  Ask them not to explore palm oil as a biofuel option.  Cutting down rainforests to grow palm oil is not a “green” substitute for gasoline.

Download the Palm Oil Shopping Guide from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Conservation at Home! It’s Easy Being Green!

Create Backyard Habitats:

Check out the educational graphic at Cameron Park Zoo’s Junior League of Waco Butterfly Garden for ideas on plants for your garden that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Our bird staff suggests the following:

Flowers for Attracting Hummingbirds

Turk’s Cap: an easy to grow shrubby perennial with bright red, funnel form flowers throughout the summer. Will die back in winter but comes back vigorously in spring. Height: 4 ft. Grows in sun to part shade.

Beard Tongue: A clumping perennial that has tubular scarlet flowers on upright stems.
Height: 21-24 inches. Grows in sun to part sun.

Summer Phlox: A hearty perennial that blooms from summer to early fall with red or pink flower varieties.
Height: 2- 4 feet. Grows in full sun.

Coral Honeysuckle: A shrubby vine with evergreen leaves and coral red flowers all summer. It can be pruned to keep the plant more compact. Will spread if left to it’s own devices.
Height: 8 – 12 feet. Grows in full sun to part shade.

“Madam Galan” Trumpet Vine: A vigorous deciduous vine that will decorate any fence with showy red trumpet-shaped flowers.
Grows in full sun.

Flowers for Attracting Butterflies
It is best to plant large groups of flowers when attracting butterflies to your yard.

The number one flower for attracting butterflies is:
Greg’s Mist: Blooms from March to November, grows profusely, and is drought resistant.

Other flowering plants that attract butterflies:
Scarlet Sage
Butterfly Weed
Purple Fall Aster
Purple Coneflower
Black Eyed Susan
Buddleia (also called the Butterfly Bush)

Don’t Forget Munchies for the Caterpillars!


Most caterpillars prefer only a limited range of host plants. For instance, the Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed while the Painted Lady prefers hollyhock and thistle.

Recipes that are for the Birds!
Cameron Park Zoo’s bird staff also suggests the following recipes for feeding some of your feathered friends:

Hummingbird Nectar

Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to dissolve.
Cool before filling feeder.
Refrigerate if not using right away.

Replace nectar in feeders often, especially during hot days. Feeders should be disinfected regularly with a solution of 10 parts water to one part bleach.

Hard Suet Tidbit Cakes

1/2  lb.   fresh ground suet
1   cup    wild bird seed mix
1/8  c     chopped peanuts
1/4  c     chopped raisins

1.  Melt suet in saucepan over low heat. Allow it to cool thoroughly, and then reheat.

  1. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, pour into bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour into pie pan or suet feeder to harden.

Peanut Butter Suet Mix

2 c   fresh ground suet
1 c   peanut butter
2 c   yellow corn meal
2 c   fine cracked corn

  1. Melt suet in saucepan over low heat. Allow it to cool thoroughly, and then reheat.
  2. Add peanut butter, stirring until the peanut butter is melted and well blended.
  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Pour into forms or suet feeders, and allow to cool.

Use our natural resources wisely: Reduce – Reuse – Recycle


Reduce the amount of water you use:

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  • Dishwashers use less water than hand-washing dishes, but be sure to wait to run the dishwasher until it is fully loaded
  • Plant native and low water plants.
  • Only water lawn in the evening and reduce the amount of time and how often sprinklers are used.

Reduce the waste that you produce:

  • Buy less – use less
  • Do not buy products that come in excessive packaging.
  • Buy recyclable products.
  • Use your own bags at the supermarket.
  • Say NO to junk mail: call the toll free numbers on catalogues and other mailers to remove yourself from their marketing lists.
  • Compost –  its good for your garden!


  • Disposable items don’t necessarily need to be disposed of – try washing that plastic cup and keeping it for other drinks.
  • Donate things you no longer need to charitable organizations, rather than sending them to the landfill.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Be creative! Look for new ways to use old containers and other items – turn old t-shirts in cleaning rags and use instead of paper towels.


  • Don’t throw it away if it can be recycled.
  • Check out Solid Waste Recycling to find out how to recycle in Waco.
  • The zoo puts a new spin on recycling by turning your trash into toys for animals. Check out our Enrichment program for ways you can help!