Why do people adopt orangutans?

Well, first of all, the word adoption. It felt like … I mean, I know he’s not mine, but it felt like he’s mine, like, ‘I have adopted him’. (Interview 25)

For the past year I’ve been Orangutan hanging from treeexploring the previously uncharted world of virtual orangutan ‘adoption’. Adoption entails giving a regular donation to a particular named orangutan and being kept up to date on its progress through rehabilitation. I’ve been finding out why people feel motivated to adopt orangutans, what adoption means to them and their broader views on wildlife conservation. I’ve been thinking about these questions in light of ideas around kinship, interspecies ethics and extinction.

Working in collaboration with two charities (Orangutan Foundation and International Animal Rescue) I’ve interviewed 59 orangutan adopters from the UK and across the world. My initial findings, produced as reports for Orangutan Foundation (Hannah Fair OF Report 2019 Public release) and for International Animal Rescue (Hannah Fair IAR Presentation For Circulation) are now available.

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