Okay, most of us do not have pet orangutans or elephants, but some of us have exotic reptiles that used to live in the rain forests. Before you make your candy selection this year, be aware that candy containing palm oil may be the cause of endangered species habitat destruction. The El Paso Zoo has published a list of popular candy items and specifies which have palm oil and which do not. Take a look at the list before you buy Halloween candy this year.
The problem with palm oil
Food manufacturers have started adding palm oil to their products instead of soybean and other oils. The real reason is that it is cheaper than the other types of oil. Unfortunately for the palms and the animals that live in their forests, harvesting palms for the oil requires killing the tree. Thousands of acres of rain forests in around the world are being clear cut for palm farms and other agriculture.
Palm oil is the cheapest and most cost effective food oil to produce. It is also found in cosmetics and household products. The problem is not only with palm oil, but with derivatives of palm oil such as sodium lauryl sulphate or vitamin A palmitate. Each year, orangutans, elephants, and other endangered animals of the rain forest lose their lives to loss of habitat caused by our consumerism.
Rain forest devastation is such a large problem that the El Paso Zoo has created a mobile app to give consumers the power to make ethical food choices. It is available for iPhone and Android devices. I downloaded the app for my Android. To use it, just scan the barcode of a product and it will tell you if the item uses unsustainable palm oil products or derivatives.
The problem is not only with elephants and orangutans. Many people keep large boa constrictors like reticulated pythons as pets. More often than not, these pets are imported from the wild. As a former exotic pet dealer, I have a keen understanding of the exotic pet trade. Your pet python, iguana, or gecko was most likely imported from the wild, unless you purchased it from a very reputable breeder and paid a premium for it. The destruction of the rain forests impacts the pet trade too. If you love your reptiles, especially those brightly colored geckos and lizards, take care to protect their natural environment.
Lynda Altman loves animals and is “mom” to three rescued dogs; Izzy, Sophie, and Romeo. She is very concerned about pet health issues. Prior to the birth of her 4th child, Lynda owned an exotic pet business. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.