Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can Beauty Save the Beast?

This morning, as I was doing some research for an article about celebrities helping endangered species, I hit a roadblock on Julia Roberts. 

Do you remember that documentary she did for PBS several years ago? The one about orangutans?

Yeah, well, it seems that Roberts was involved in an unruly incident while filming on location in the wilds of Borneo. 

What are the odds?

Apparently, a large male orangutan "made a move" on the movie star that involved a fair amount of grappling, both on the part of the ape and the film crew. 

I don't doubt that it was a frightening encounter for the Pretty Woman, but does it really deserve every Google search result? 

As you might imagine, the King Kong references have gone haywire, and now the whole affair is remembered as a cautionary tale about the big, bad orangutan rather than a celeb's honest effort to help an amazing species that's hovering on the edge of extinction.

So, here I am, doing my small part to bring the picture back into focus. 

Julia Roberts did leave the luxuries of her New York City stomping grounds to brave, of all places, Borneo (do you know how many kinds of biting bugs live in Borneo?). 

And not only did Julia tell us about the orangutans; she hugged them, crooned to them, shared her oranges with them, and did her darndest to make their existence matter to the world. Surely, that is worth remembering. 

The moral of the moment? Every big, hairy animal has its dangerous tendencies, but each is a cog in the wondrous wheel we call planet Earth. It's up to us to live accordingly.

Read more about Julia's orangutan expedition as well as Leo DiCaprio's tiger talks, Harrison Ford's protest of the wildlife trade, and more celeb consciousness here:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lorax and More: Books for Kids

If asked to name a book that has been truly influential in terms of endangered species awareness and basic ecological enlightenment, I'd probably answer ...

Scoff if you want. Call me simple. I stand by my selection. 

Sometimes the most complex messages are best conveyed in rhyme (or at least in plain language). And, hey, who better to absorb the message than kids? After all, they carry the torch of our planet's future.

If you're on the same page, you might also enjoy other books on my reading list:

Endangered Species Books for Kids