Pony the Orangutan Slave, and the Plight of Primates


Pony is an orangutan who was rescued after being used as a sex slave. Watch this video to learn more about her story and the plight of primates.

N Chokshi. Koko the Gorilla, Who Used Sign Language and Befriended Mr. Rogers, Dies at 46. The New York Times. Jun. 21, 2018. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Koko, the gorilla whose apparent aptitude for sign language endeared her to fans around the world, died in her sleep on Tuesday morning in California, according to the Gorilla Foundation, which oversaw her care. She was 46.”

J Adams. Conclusive Proof That There Is No God and Humans Are Essentially Evil. Vice. Oct. 2, 2007. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Pony is an orangutan from a prostitute village in Borneo. We found her chained to a wall, lying on a mattress. She had been shaved all over her body.”

A Estrada, PA Garber, AB Rylands, et. al. Impending Extinction Crisis of the World’s Primates: Why Primates Matter. Science Advances. Jan. 4, 2017. Vol. 3, no. 1, e1600946. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Alarmingly, ~60% of primate species are now threatened with extinction and ~75% have declining populations.”

S Sandhu. What is Palm Oil and Why is it so Bad for the environment? iNews. Apr. 10, 2018. Available here (accessed Jul. 25 2018).

“The production of palm oil contributes to widespread deforestation and is pushing wildlife to extinction around the world.”

H Steinfeld, P Gerber, T Wassenaar, V Castel, M Rosales and C. de Haan. Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options. United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization. 2006 Nov. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Livestock…may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species.”

P Thornton, M Herrero and P Ericksen. Livestock and Climate Change. International Livestock Research Institute. Nov. 2011. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Livestock systems occupy 45% of the global surface area[.]”

G Ceballos, PR Ehrlich, AD Barnosky, A García, RM Pringle and TM Palmer. Accelerated Modern Human–Induced Species Losses: Entering the Sixth Mass Extinction. Science Advances. 2015 Jun: Vol. 1, no. 5, e1400253. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

J Poore and T. Nemecek. Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts Through Producers and Consumers. Journal Science. 2018 Jun.; 360 (6392) 987-992. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“[D]ietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers. Moving from current diets to a diet that excludes animal products…has transformative potential, reducing food’s land use by 3.1 …billion hectares (a 76% reduction)[.]”

D Carrington. Avoiding Meat and Dairy is ‘Single Biggest Way’ to Reduce Your Impact on Earth. The Guardian. May 31, 2018. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“[W]ithout meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world.”

Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health website: The Nutrition Source – Healthy Eating Pyramid – 5 Quick Tips, Following the Healthy Eating Pyramid. Available here (accessed Jul. 25, 2018).

“Go with plants. Eating a plant-based diet is healthiest.”

Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa:

Hi, I’m Sofia, and in this video I’m going to talk about Pony, an orangutan who was used as a slave, as well as the current plight of primates in general.

But, first I’d like to talk a little bit about Koko, who was a beloved gorilla who passed away last month at the age of 46.

For those who don’t know about Koko, she was a beautiful gorilla who learned sign language when she was growing up. So, she could actually communicate with humans through sign language.

She befriended several celebrities, including Robin Williams, and even adopted an abandoned kitten, who she named “All Ball” because to her the cat looked like a little ball.

Koko famously played with and cared for her kitten very gently and lovingly, until one day her kitten went missing and she was informed by a human – via sign language – that her kitten had been hit and killed by a car. Koko reacted to the sad news with a period of profound grief and crying out loud.

So, Koko was quite a celebrity, and we’re all remembering this sweet gorilla after her recent passing.

However, not all primates are treated with such reverence.

As a stark contrast, this orangutan called Pony was captured and used as a prostitute in a brothel in Borneo. You heard that right. They shaved her hair off, chained her to a mattress, and men would come and pay to have sex with her.

Customers could choose between a human prostitute or Pony, but many came specifically for Pony, as she was apparently considered a novelty and was very lucrative for the brothel.

The director of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said, “It took us over a year to rescue her, because every time we went in with forest police and local officers we would be overpowered by the villagers, who simply would not give her up. They would threaten us with guns and knives with poison on them. In the end it took 35 policemen armed with AK-47s and other weaponry going in there and demanding [that] they hand over Pony.”

It’s very sad and disturbing that so many people were supposedly okay with an orangutan being a sex slave. Fortunately, most people in general would never be okay with an orangutan (or anyone) being used as a sex slave, and most of us are naturally horrified by the idea of it.

But, unfortunately, primates are still in big trouble all over the world and for a whole host of reasons.

By far, the biggest threat they’re facing right now is that they are losing their habitats.

This video was actually filmed in Borneo, the same place where Pony was from. This is a different orangutan apparently trying to fight off a bulldozer that is destroying his home.

An alarming 60% of primate species are now threatened with extinction, and 75% have declining populations because we are taking their land.

And why are we taking their land?

Well, because of our rapid human population growth coupled with our consumption habits, which (importantly) include palm oil and animal foods.

Palm oil is used widely in many products. And it is grown in tropical rainforests. So what we are doing now, is we are clearing these rainforests, and replacing all that land with palm oil plantations. So, please don’t consume items with palm oil.

But, when it comes to land use globally and loss of biodiversity in general, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s animal agriculture that is the leading driver of deforestation in the world, and (by far) the largest land user on the planet.

Animal agriculture uses a staggering 45% of the land surface of the planet. Forty five percent of it!

So our collective consumption of animal foods like meat, dairy and eggs, results in the need to clear even larger expanses of natural ecosystems, like rainforests and other sensitive areas, and convert them into farmlands. And when we convert natural ecosystems into farmlands, we kill the animals who were there because they lose their habitats – so, it’s directly driving loss of biodiversity, which is irreplaceable.

Of course, the demand for both animal foods and palm oil is increasing every single day as our human population increases.

How fast is our human population growing? Well, after subtracting deaths, our human population is increasing by a net growth of about 230,000 people every day.

That’s a net growth of over 80 million people per year.

So, think about it. The entire United Kingdom has a population of about 65 million people. That means, in terms of humans, we’re adding more than a new United Kingdom every year, even though we are already overshooting what our planet’s natural resources can sustainably supply.

Slowing and stabilizing our human population growth is urgently needed from an environmental perspective and would make all of our environmental challenges easier to address, including the palm oil disaster, the plastic contamination disaster, and a lot of other things.

But a global transition to vegan diets is also urgently needed from an environmental perspective as well.

Remember, according to the United Nations, animal agriculture is the number one driver of deforestation in the world. And loss of habitats is the number one cause of species going extinct right now. And there are so many species going extinct right now, that biologists have already classified our time as the Sixth Mass Extinction in Earth’s history.

According to a comprehensive study just published in the journal Science, researchers from Oxford University found that, by eliminating meat and dairy from our diets, we could feed the entire world population and, at the same time, reduce global farmland by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined.

Isn’t that amazing? I think this is so remarkable that I would like to repeat it.

If the human population fed itself with plant foods instead of animal foods, we would reduce the land used for farmlands by 75%, which is an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined.

So, if we’re eating meat and dairy, we’re paying for products that are wiping out and killing species, and doing so in the context of an alarming and ongoing mass extinction event, which is what is happening right now.

As a physician, I’d also like to point out that a plant-based vegan diet happens to be very healthy too. It decreases our risk for many chronic diseases.

Even Harvard’s Healthy Eating Pyramid acknowledges that we should, “Go with plants”, because “eating a plant-based diet is healthiest.”

So, if you’re not doing so already, I invite you to leave animal foods off your plate forever.

What you eat is really important to determine the impact you have on the planet.

For all of us with basic access to food options, going vegan has never been easier. It’s just a matter of changing your habits, and there are tons of wonderful recipes, vegan starter-kits and other online resources that can help anyone make the switch.

Thank you very much.

This transcript is an approximation of the audio in above video. To hear the audio and see the accompanying visuals, please play the video.

This video was written and narrated by Sofia Pineda Ochoa, MD and Bob Rapfogel.

This presentation may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Meat Your Future is using such material in its efforts to advance the public’s understanding of the implications of animal consumption on health, the environment and ethics. We believe that this not-for-profit, non-commercial and educational use constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in 17 U.S. Code §107). If you wish to use this material for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Without limiting the foregoing, this presentation also includes the following:

  • Screenshots and text from the following websites: (1) Vegan Easy Recipes, available here (accessed July 25, 2018); (2) Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine Vegan Starter Kit, available here (accessed July 25, 2018); and (3) How Do I Go Vegan – “Going Vegan Is Easy!”, available here (accessed July 25, 2018).