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Action for Apes Challenge


The 2015 Action for Apes Challenge has begun!
Register your group today and join the contest.

The Action for Apes Challenge is a yearly contest hosted by the Houston Zoo to see which school or community organization can recycle the most cell phones by April 30th, 2015. By recycling old phones with the zoo you can help protect animals like chimpanzees and gorillas that live in areas where cell phone materials are mined.

Congratulations to Dickinson High School for being the 2014 Action for Apes Winners! You are always welcome to bring any used cell phone to recycle – we have a drop off bin conveniently located just outside our main entrance gate next to the Guest Services office.

Who can participate?

Any local school, business, organization, or scout group can participate. Simply complete the registration form on this page and start your recycling campaign! Promotional materials are available for you to market the challenge and all phones collected by April 30th, 2015 will be recycled through the company Eco-Cell.EcoCell_Logo_Final

What do we win if we collect the most phones?

The school or organization that recycles the most cell phones by April 30th, 2015 will win a one-of-a-kind painting done by the Houston Zoo’s chimpanzee troop! The winning school or organization can pick the colors to be used on the painting, and the painting can be hung at your institution as a reminder of your efforts to protect chimpanzees and gorillas in the wild.

A painting created by Houston Zoo chimpanzees. The winner receives a painting created just for your school or group!

What are the contest rules?

  • All participating institutions must register online before collecting cell phones. Once registered, you will receive an e-mail providing you with information to receive your free shipping labels and a collection box for your school or organization!
  • All phones must be collected by April 30, 2015. Only those cell phones collected by that date will be counted in your total. Cell phone accessories (bluetooth, chargers) will not count in the total but can be recycled in the challenge.
  • Participating institutions will ship their phones directly to Eco-Cell using a provided shipping label e-mailed to you, postmarked on or before April 30, 2015. Eco-Cell will count the phones to determine the winner.
  • The school or organization that recycles the most cell phones by April 30th, 2015 will receive a unique painting done by the zoo’s chimpanzee troop. Both the first and second place schools/organizations will receive recognition on our Houston Zoo Facebook pages and social media outlets.
  • The Houston Zoo will announce the Action for Apes 2015 winners no later than May 21, 2015.
  • Schools and organizations may choose to use a pre-made collection bin sent from the company Eco-Cell, OR designate your own recycling bin and decorate it with Houston Zoo promotional materials as well as any artwork designed by participants.

Can we collect and recycle anything other than cell phones?

Yes, you can collect and recycle any of the following:

  • Cell phones
  • Smart phones
  • iPods or other MP3 players
  • iPads or other tablets
  • wifi hot spots
  • digital cameras
  • handheld gaming devices
  • GPS
  • Electronic accessories such as chargers, blue tooth headsets, etc. (Please note that electronic accessories can be collected and recycled, but will not count in the totals.)

Would you like to use this poster to help promote your campaign? Download the pdf of the Action for Apes Poster and print it:

Action for Apes Signs


How do I sign my school or organization up?

Fill out the online registration form on this page and begin collecting cell phones! Get the word out about the challenge to others in your school or organization, create posters, hang up the content provided by the Zoo, spread the word and have fun!

Action for Apes Registration Form

Before donating your phone(s):

Make sure you terminate your service or switch your contract to a new phone.

  • Clear any personal data from the phone by removing the SIM card or manually the information. On most cell phones, you can find “Reset Phone” under “Phone Settings.”
  • Turn your phone off, if your phone’s battery is still charged.

How does this help save animals like gorillas and chimpanzees?

A material called tantalum is found in almost every cell phone, as well as in laptops and cameras. This metal comes from the ground in Central Africa, which happens to be where animals like chimpanzees, gorillas and okapis live. When the metal is taken from chimpanzee habitats to be used in electronics, the homes of chimps, gorillas and okapis become disrupted and these animal populations decrease.

The mineral coltan is taken from places where animals like chimpanzees and gorillas live to be used in our electronics, especially cell phones.
The mineral coltan is taken from places where animals like chimpanzees and gorillas live to be used in our electronics, especially cell phones.

If you recycle your old cell phone with us, then the materials in the phone can be reused instead of getting new minerals from the ground in Central Africa.

When you recycle your phone at the zoo, we return it to a company called Eco-Cell that sells the individual parts of the phone so that they can be reused. Any proceeds then go to conservation efforts to save animals in the wild.

How Recycling Cell Phones Helps Animals

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