This was a lot to process.
My first reaction was concern that the orangutan might be getting ‘tussed up. However, the guy in the commercial seemed okay with an orangutan shopping for Robitussin alongside him — and impressed by the orangutan’s use of an app via smartphone to select the correct Robitussin product.
Googling these details revealed that the orangutan is Suryia — one half of Suryia and Roscoe, a heartwarming friendship between ape and Bluetick Coonhound that developed at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S. — also known as Myrtle Beach Safari) in South Carolina.
The unlikely duo became a media sensation, astonishing even Oprah.
The animal trainer guy featured in some of these videos is Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, founder and director of both T.I.G.E.R.S. and The Rare Species Fund (R.S.F.).
The female trainer — who also serves as Suryia’s hand double in the Robitussin commercial — is Moksha Bybee. This past summer she introduced Suryia to the joys of swimming:
As you would probably expect by now, Suryia even loves to jet ski.
It is still a lot for me to process.
There’s also a part at end of the now-private video where Moksha Bybee says, “Orangutans are one of the most endangered animals on this planet. You can save the orangutan by avoiding palm oil. Palm oil destroys millions of acres of land every year, and palm oil is hidden in everything that you use, from your laundry detergent to your snack foods — even ice cream.”
And cookies. A Center for Science in the Public Interest alert on palm oil harming orangutans and other wildlife begins, “Orangutans are literally dying for cookies.”