*Pongo, an (animatronic) orangutan who was displaced from his rainforest home in Borneo, has found somewhere to live in the UK following a two-week search. Choosing to settle in a derelict church in Central London, its vines and overgrown trees remind him of the home he was forced to leave behind.
The stunt, put together by Meridian (the palm oil free nut butter brand), carries a stark warning for Brits: orangutans will go extinct, if we don’t stop destroying their habitat.
With just 100,000 Bornean orangutans left, the species is critically endangered and deforestation has played a major role. 24 million hectares of rainforest (an area the size of the UK) was destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, primarily to make way for palm oil plantations.
Yet research commissioned by Meridian revealed 38% of people in the UK do not avoid palm oil whenever possible. With it appearing in 50% of packaged products, the continued demand for palm oil contributes significantly to the ongoing destruction of orangutans’ rainforest habitats.
The stunt comes two weeks after Meridian kicked off its #ProtectPongo street art campaign in partnership with environmentalist and renowned artist, Louis Masai. Louis and Meridian toured the UK, creating striking **portraits of orangutans interacting with the threats they face, from deforestation to palm oil production and potentially even COVID-19.
#ProtectPongo also aims to raise funds for Meridian’s charity partner, International Animal Rescue, which is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing Bornean orangutans.