Philadelphia Zoo Launches $10,000 University UNLESS Prize Challenge to Help Save Orangutans from Extinction

My daughter Libby Martinez is one of the architects of this exciting project. Please spread the word.

In a groundbreaking initiative, the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first Zoo, is inviting university students across the United States to join their efforts to save the critically endangered orangutan by competing to win the 2012 University UNLESS Prize. The challenge issued to university students is to develop the most innovative mobile device application to link consumers with palm oil product manufacturers and help increase market demand for certified sustainable palm oil. All students nationwide who are enrolled in a university degree program are eligible to compete. The winning team in the 2012 University UNLESS Prize challenge will be awarded $10,000.

Palm oil is the world’s most widely-produced vegetable oil and is found in a wide array of consumer products including cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals, chips, chocolate and ice cream. According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, palm oil can be found in almost 50% of packaged food and is an ingredient in many items including shampoo, cosmetics, lipstick and lotion. Palm oil cultivation is currently one of the leading causes of deforestation worldwide and with the rapid destruction of ecologically-complex rainforests in Sumatra and Borneo, numerous species, including orangutans, are facing extinction in the wild. If the nature of palm oil production does not change, it is estimated that wild orangutans will become extinct in as few as 25 years.

The title of the 2012 University UNLESS Prize is inspired by the timeless words of Dr. Seuss in The Lorax – “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


Philadelphia Zoo Launches $10,000 University UNLESS Prize Challenge to Help Save Orangutans from Extinction — 1 Comment

  1. Pat, this is a great idea. I get so fed up not trying to work out all the “vegetable oil” ingredients in food and where it comes from… I hope the App they produce will have potential outside the US too…

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