New Zealand personality and host of TVNZ Good Morning Jeanette Thomas, has just returned from the jungles of Sumatra to launch The Orangutan Project (TOP) in New Zealand with TOP President Leif Cocks.
"My name's Jeanette Thomas and I currently host an interview based morning television show in New Zealand called Good Morning. I have a husband, two daughters, half a dozen chickens, two cats and I love orangutans. I love them with every fibre of my being. My eldest daughter, Charlotte, is a passionate conservationist and she's been the best teacher I could've ever asked for. She's only 11 but I've learnt so much from her. We're both incredibly passionate and dedicated to doing anything we can to raise the awareness of the plight of these beautiful creatures and the impact that deforestation and palm oil is having on them, on indigenous communities and on our planet."
“The trip to Sumatra with Charlotte was such a wonderful experience and such an honour to travel alongside Leif,” says Thomas. “We've learnt so much more about orangutans being able to see them firsthand and also see the absolute destruction to their habitat caused by palm oil plantations,” she continues. “After returning from Sumatra, I feel more strongly about this cause than I've ever felt about anything. Orangutans are incredibly intelligent and peaceful creatures and they deserve respect and a place on this earth, just as much as you and I.”
“Our family has already adopted two orangutans through The Orangutan Project. We're now adopting one special orphan we met called Dora
, too. Being able to see firsthand where my money goes and seeing what's being done to get the orphans wild again is invaluable,” says Thomas.
Zoë Foster Blake
Author and columnist Zoë Foster is the latest Aussie celeb to voice concern for the orangutan species, joining The Orangutan Project in 2013 as an Ambassador. Zoë has always had a deep fondness and great awe for orangutans, and has been privately supporting TOP for almost ten years now. Zoë has had a successful career in the magazine industry as a beauty editor and writer, and has penned five books to date, with the latest, 'The Younger Man' released in February 2012.
"The orangutans are in dire straits, and it is our duty to help those who cannot help themselves," Zoë says, adding "their numbers are diminishing rapidly, their habitat is being destroyed, poachers hunt them – why wouldn’t we help them?"
Zoë believes it is extremely important that we continue to do all we can in our power to help protect these beautiful creatures from becoming extinct, with their admirable intelligence and so many shared similarities to human beings. Zoë has also fostered orangutan twins Ganteng and Ginting through TOP, to assist in providing the support, care and rehabilitation they need to survive.
Natasha Stott Despoja, Ian Smith & Conrad Stott Smith
Natasha Stott Despoja, former politician and Leader of the Australian Democrats and husband Ian Smith joined The Orangutan Project as Ambassadors in early 2013 alongside their eight-year-old son, Conrad Stott Smith, in an effort to raise awareness about Critically Endangered orangutans.
Natasha, Ian and their children Conrad and daughter Cordelia, have always been passionate about animals, but after a trip to Borneo to see the orangutans in their natural environment they became fascinated by them. Natasha and Ian understand how important it is to protect rare and endangered animal species, and have a special love for orangutans.
“Orangutans are animals so closely related to humans, yet as a species we do so much to hurt them” Ian says, adding “we must change that”.
Natasha had a unique political career dating back to 1995, when she became the youngest women ever elected to Federal Parliament. After a successful career in politics Natasha retired in 2008 after the birth of her second child. In 2011 Natasha was named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly for her leadership roles and for being a role model for women.
Natasha's new role as The Orangutan Project's Ambassador has the whole family involved, with son Conrad being a natural supporter (given his hair colour) of the 'Redheads for Redheads' campaign run by TOP. They all wish to play a part in highlighting the importance of these wonderful creatures and the dangers they are facing.
Bianca Dye is one of the sassiest and most outspoken media celebrities in Australia - a role model for all women and she isn't afraid to tell it like it is!
Bianca has joined the Redheads for Redheads campaign, and will be travelling to Sumatra in November 2012, alongside Leif Cocks, President of TOP.
Bianca is the only female radio announcer to win "Best Radio Personality" in Australia two years in a row and has won numerous radio awards after 15 years in radio. She is passionate about animals and has previously worked with Humane Society International and the RSPCA as an ambassador and fundraiser. Bianca has also written a book with Dr Cindy Pan "Playing Hard To Get" (Harper Collins) and her next book in the works will be about blowing away the taboo of daily anxiety and helping others.
“I am extremely excited to be joining forces with TOP to help raise awareness about the plight of the orangutan. Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination with orangutans. They are the most incredibly peaceful and friendly creatures and it breaks my heart that they are a dying breed due to human greed,” says Bianca. “They need a voice, they need to be heard and I want to do whatever I can to help them.”
Channel 7 actress Cornelia Frances joined The Orangutan Project in 2011 as its first Ambassador in an effort to raise awareness about Critically Endangered orangutans.
Cornelia Francis is a renowned Australian actress who has appeared on several Australian TV shows including, The Box, The Young Doctors, Sons and Daughters and her most memorable role as Morag Bellingham in Home and Away, which she has starred in for over 20 years. She also hosted the Australia version of the quiz show, The Weakest Link.
"I am extremely excited to be joining forces with TOP to help raise awareness about the plight of the orangutan. I could not think of a better cause to lend my hand of support. I look forward to bringing national attention to the dire situation orangutans face from habitat loss and help raise much needed funds to ensure the survival of the species," said Cornelia.
Georgia has always had a deep fondness and great awe for orangutans and by joining TOP as an Ambassador she hopes to spread the word and encourage more people to adopt an orangutan. Being selected in the Hockeyroo’s in 2009 at the age of 17, Georgia instantly became one of the youngest Hockeyroo’s in history and at 20 years of age she became the youngest woman in history to play 100 games for Australia.
“On the hockey field my red hair is a very defining feature and it is something that I have always been very proud of,” says Georgia. “Many of my team mates often joke about me being related to Orangutans! Although the comments are always in jest, I can't help but feel a certain closeness to our furry friends and I feel very passionate about doing what I can to help them.”
Georgia believes it is extremely important that we continue to do all we can in our power to help protect these beautiful creatures from becoming extinct, with their admirable intelligence and so many shared similarities to human beings.