Alleged online orangutan trader arrested

We have a big cheer today for Indonesian authorities and the agencies they worked with to arrest an online orangutan trader.  

The suspect was first apprehended in February while conducting a transaction in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia involving a living orangutan believed to be 6-12 months old and worth $1,300 U.S. dollars on the illegal market. The arrest on April 13 is the second level of the suspect’s law process before going to trial. 

The state prosecutor of North Sumatra said the trafficker allegedly sold wildlife through Facebook and by BlackBerry Messenger. 

This arrest comes on the heels of Friends of Animals reporting on wildlife trafficking flourishing on the internet in the spring issue of Action Line and how conscientious Web users can play a role in fighting wildlife crime. Read the article here. 

In this Sumatran case, the trader, identified as VHN, confessed that he received illegal wildlife and wildlife items from local hunters and collectors in Aceh and North Sumatra, as well as having a trafficking network in Java. Based on information gathered in the initial investigation by Civil Servant Investigators (PPNS) and the North Sumatra Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BBKSDA), the trader allegedly sold various protected living wildlife, including orangutans, golden cats, hedgehogs, greater slow loris, siamang, Javan gibbons, hornbills and juvenile crocodiles. He also sold wildlife parts such as hornbill beaks, tiger skins and tiger fangs.

 According to preliminary investigations, the trader was a top player in the online trader network in Medan based on his network’s connectivity, animal variety and volume. The arrest came about following a similar online trading case in 2014. In that case, an associate working for VHN was caught by BBKSDA with a golden cat, siamang and gibbon.

 The trader violated Indonesian law and is subject to a maximum of five years in prison and a $7,600 fine. Orangutans are protected under Indonesian law and keeping them as pets is illegal.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, mainly because their tropical forest habitat is being razed for agriculture and palm oil plantations or logged for timber. Friends of Animals also published an article about the horrors of the palm oil industry. You can read it here. 

Good news for animals in San Francisco! The city’s board of directors just voted unanimously for a measure that aims to “protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment and to protect the public from the danger posed by the use of wild and exotic animals for entertainment.” 

In addition to elephant acts, the proposed law would bar everything from performing lions, tigers and bears to chimps, camels and kangaroos. Even rhinos, hippos and giraffes — as well as skunks, weasels and armadillos — would be outlawed. The ban would apply to filming a movie, as well as circus acts and street performers. reports that this decision did not go over well with the movie industry…”A letter Monday from theMotion Picture Association of America argued that the ordinance would prevent animals from working in movies filmed in San Francisco, even if the shows had proper permits and animal handlers approved by the federal government.” But this viewpoint held little water with San Francisco’s board and  Supervisor Scott Wiener argued that the training and transportation of performing animals is nothing less than torture, something that shouldn’t be allowed “in the city of St. Francis.”

The ordinance was proposed by Supervisor Katy Tang, who said in a meeting with board members, “We want to address the inequalities for a population that can’t speak for themselves,” and we agree that the passage of this measure is a fantastic step in the right direction. The Chronicle also reports that Tang is only gearing up: she’s seeking statewide and national bans next.

We’re hopeful that this act of phasing out one form of animal abuse inspires a greater movement among animal activists in New York City and among the entire circus and entertainment industries to completely eliminate all forms of animal exploitation in their acts and that this victory inspires new waves of animal activism. We ask that you take a moment today to stand up for all forms of animal exploitation that exist within the circus industry and completely boycott circuses until animals are no longer a part of them. Friends of Animals is committed to enacting similar legislation banning all wild animal acts from performing in New York City.

Although the word armadillo translates to “little armored one” in Spanish, their tough shells were never intended to deflect bullets…which was unfortunate for one armadillo who was recently shot and killed by a man in Lee County, GA. We have a gigantic jeer today for the dimwit whose gunshot not only killed this armadillo, but also resulted in the bullet ricocheting and hitting his mother-in-law in the back, and for the seemingly incompetent Dougherty County Extension Coordinator, James Morgan, who actually recommended Georgians start killing more armadillos. 

In an interview with, Morgan says whenever a report of an armadillo shooting comes to his attention, he asks if the shooter is from the country, “because shooting is an effective way of getting rid of them.” 

He then ridiculously suggests a different weapon for those interested in killing innocent animals, “I really think if they’re going to shoot at varmints and whatnot, maybe use a shotgun…with a spread pattern with a lot less range.” 

Contrary to the beliefs held by Morgan and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, armadillos are not invasive varmints, but are in fact a solitary and nocturnal species in steady decline. According to National Geographic, population numbers of nearly all species of armadillos are threatened by habitat loss and hunting. They are unassuming and timid animals who feed on 90% insects, such as termites and maggots, and have such poor eyesight, there’s a good chance if you stay quiet and stand still if you see one in the wild, they won’t even notice you.

Armadillos dig in lawns to locate insects. There are  non-lethal ways homeowners can learn to tolerate armadillos such as creating barriers around your property or garden using chicken wire or hardware cloth. Another deterrent is sprinkling black pepper on the area you’d prefer armadillos to stay away from, since these animals have extremely sensitive noses, the pepper irritates their nasal passages and causes them to retreat. 

It’s completely irresponsible and immoral for authorities in Georgia to encourage the shooting of these animals, especially after the incident that occurred earlier this week. Tell James Morgan and the Lee County Sheriff’s office that you oppose shooting these mammals and they should be discussing ways for residents to peacefully coexist with all wildlife, instead of promoting the use of dangerous firearms.  Who could be offended by a mammal that consumes termites?

James Morgan: 229-436-7216 or email 

Lee County Sheriff’s Office: (229) 438-2294


Are you looking to adopt a forever friend from NYC Animal Care and Control (ACC)? Well now there’s an App for that. 

We have a cheer today for the ACC for introducing a new free mobile App for iPhone to make finding a pet easier. The App showcases the hundreds of homeless cats, dogs and rabbits available for adoption at ACC facilities in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. The ACC describes the App as being perfect for those who are looking for a new companion animal and want the most up-to-date list from which to select their new pet. 

With Facebook, Twitter, text message and e-mail shares built-in, users can even help spread the word that these great animals are ready to find their forever homes. You can also keep a list of “Favorites” to track the pets you like the best.

“With hundreds of wonderful cats, dogs and rabbits available for adoption at AC&C every day, it’s essential we reach as many potential adopters as possible,” Risa Weinstock, executive director of AC&C, told the NY Daily News. “By using the app to find a new best friend — as well as to share accurate listings in real time of adorable pets looking for love — we can make a real difference for shelter animals in NYC.”

We should points out that it’s crucial to be prepared for the responsibility and lifelong commitment rescuing an animal entails. And when you are prepared, Friends of Animals offers a low-cost spay and neutering program, which is an effective means of preventing homelessness. 


Second School in NYC Adopts a Vegetarian Menu

Empanadas, hummus, quesadillas, lentil chili, vegan meatballs….although it may sound like the menu at a trendy vegan cafe, it’s actually what’s being offered to students at P.S. 343, the Peck Slip School, in NYC! 

The school’s menu varies daily, although kung pao tofu with lo mein and butternut squash raviolis are favorites, and the absence of hot dogs and pepperoni is definitely having a positive impact on the students…and the alternative menu isn’t any more expensive! 

The Coalition for Healthy School Food was a critical component of school’s transition to vegetarian lunches, they first assisted at P.S. 244Q before Peck Slip. Founded over 10 years ago, the coalition has helped schools switch to vegetarian or alternative menus and to wean lunches from beef, pork and processed foods such as chicken nuggets or mozzarella sticks.

The coalition’s executive director, Amie Hamlin, spoke with and said two of the programs also provide nutrition education: “Family Dinner Night” is a plant-based meal served to parents, teachers, and administrators, as well as students, and the evening includes hands on learning activities and a cooking demo; and the Food on Earth curriculum is a yearlong, weekly 45-minute class for fourth- and fifth-graders that includes food-preparation and nutritional education.

The coalition has a limited number of slots for the fall semester, and interested schools can get in touch at

“They get more fiber. They get less cholesterol, less saturated fat and more of the healthy fighter nutrients that come from plants,” said Hamlin 

We’re absolutely thrilled to see yet another school in NYC make the transition to a plant-based menu and hope that this trend continues and spreads around the entire country. 

As an organization that has been fully dedicated to championing a vegan lifestyle, we talk to people every day who are interested in adopting a fully plant-based diet. If you would like more information, check out our “vegan starter guide” located right here. We also offer two vegan cookbooks filled with fantastic and delicious recipes you can make at home and have a Pinterest page with tons of delicious vegan recipes