Jan. 12, 2023

[Encore] Taiwan's Orangutan Craze and the Terrors of the Tiger Trade

[Encore] Taiwan's Orangutan Craze and the Terrors of the Tiger Trade

You're hiking in the hills of Taichung in the early 1990s and suddenly come across ... an orangutan? What's more, this massive great ape is um ... in need of some, um ... "affection," and gets handsy. An unlikely scenario, right? But, that story is true! There was a time when Taiwan was gripped by a craze for baby orangutans. These apes, however, grow rather fast, and some of them were subsequently "set free." Here's that wild story, plus some others related to the "bad old days" when Taiwan was not a safe haven for many kinds of wild animals.

NOTE: This episode was first released in Season One -- Formosa Files S1-E13, Nov. 21, 2021


Cover images: A baby orangutan in a cage (via the WWF) and right: replicas of illegal "medicinal" tiger parts (via Tiger Talk).

Below: A promo pic from the US TV show "Going Bananas" (1984). This show is an example of programs featuring apes that were once popular. Sadly, such TV shows -- as well as others featuring certain breeds of dogs -- have often led to "crazes" where people buy the featured animal as a pet, without considering the long term responsibilities involved. Of course, apes should never be kept as pets as they are wild animals that belong in the wild.

Below: This picture was reportedly taken in Taiwan and shows a man riding a scooter with his presumed pet orangutan. Place, date, and origin of image is unknown. 

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Sadly, in 2018 China re-legalized the "medicinal" use of some tiger parts, as well as rhino horn. Click HERE for an article on the subject.