Runners hit the road to help orangutans

April 5, 2016 - 5:26pm

'Race for the Redheads' fundraiser benefits orangutan conservation efforts in Sumatra

It's a critical time for orangutans in Sumatra, where habitat loss, palm oil plantations and an illegal pet trade have pushed these red apes perilously close to extinction.

To help save this endangered species, which shares nearly 98 percent of its DNA with humans, the Portland chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers has joined forces with the Oregon Road Runners Club to present Race for the Redheads.

The event takes place Sunday, May 15, at 9 a.m. in Blue Lake Park, with 5K and 10K run/walks as well as a separate kids run. Costumes are encouraged, with prizes awarded for best-dressed. Click here to register, donate or volunteer.

"Race for the Redheads is a chance for us to help some of the most endangered animals on the planet and have fun doing it," said Scott Jackson, the Oregon Zoo's lead orangutan keeper, who helped organize the fundraiser. "It's open to all ages and fitness levels."

All proceeds from the event go to help the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, which works at confiscating and reintroducing illegal pet orangutans, conducting field research, and protecting the remaining wild population of Sumatran orangs.

The AAZK is a nonprofit, volunteer organization made up of professional zookeepers and other interested persons dedicated to professional animal care and conservation.