Opal the Orangutan has spent 36 lonely years in her cage. Help her get to a sanctuary!


“Mr Boswell of Boswell circus owns the Natal Zoo (South Africa), just outside Pietermaritzburg. There the public, for a fee, can see a variety of caged animals.

As an Inspector at the Kloof and Highway SPCA, I have been involved in assessing the well-being of the caged animals in this zoo. This task never fails to wrench my emotions, leaving me desperate to find some refuge for them, which would allow far better quality of life. At the very least, a semblance of nature.

Opal is the most heart-wrenching of all. She is a 36 year old orangutan. As a species, they rank among the most intelligent of all primates. Adapted to an incredible variety of stimulating, challenging & changing elements in their treetop jungle homes. As mothers they are utterly devoted parents, the young staying with them for about ten years , learning the joys & dangers of their maze of branches, leaves & fruits. What to eat, what to avoid. How to build a nest each night, how to make a leaf umbrella for the almost daily rain. Above all, they have the gentle, constant companionship of a mother, friend, teacher & playmate. All of this - until they are old, & experienced enough to go off into the world for an adult life of equal variety.

For Opal, nothing of this natural life exists. Each day she is released from her sleeping cage into her daytime cell. There on a meagre patch of grass with a makeshift "Jungle Gym" of poles, she spends every day of her life. Alone. Alone but for the people who come to stare. Her response to this heartlessly barren confinement, when she can take no more & has no hope of privacy or escape, she flings her own dung at the people watching her degradation. 

My personal reactions to my visits to see Opal & the other caged animals in this establishment are frustration, outrage, heartache & anger. From what we have been told, Opal did have a mate, & a baby boy which died of Tuberculosis. She has known the companionship of her own kind. She has loved & nurtured a baby. Now her empty eyes see only humans who stare, laugh & point fingers at her. They mean no harm; they do not understand her suffering. She is alone with crowds staring. A caged tragedy.

I have pleaded with Mr Boswell to release her to a dedicated primate sanctuary. I have appealed to sanctuaries worldwide, and there is a place for Opal- they wait for her with open arms. She will be cared for by teams of experts in the field of socialising apes which have lived lives of isolated misery, but Mr Boswell refuses to let her go. He argues matters of climate and inability to accept others of her kind

I appeal to the caring public far & wide to respond with outrage over Opal's tragedy, help her, help us to put an end to this life of misery. Teachers and parents be mindful not to teach children that this way of life is by any means normal for any creature. This is not education but the lining of a pocket at the expense of the voiceless – it should not be supported or condoned.”

Please sign this petition to urge Brian Boswell to work with Kloof SPCA and release Opal to a primate sanctuary.

Mr. Boswell 

We urge you to work with the Kloof SPCA and let Opal go. Let her spend what’s left of her life amongst her own species. Orangutans are intelligent animals who deserve interaction. You have deprived her of this basic right for the better part of 36 years. You’ve made enough money from her misery; you owe her this much. There are primate sanctuaries that will take her, so please let her go.  



Us Humans. 

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