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Action for Apes Challenge

ActionForApes_Logo-web

Answer the Call to Take Action.
Please join us for our 2019 challenge. Registration will begin November 1, 2018


Congratulations to our 2018 Action for Apes winner!
Schmalz Elementary School
Houston, Texas


The Action for Apes challenge is an annual contest hosted by the Houston Zoo to see which school or community organization can recycle the most handheld electronics by the end of APE-ril. By recycling these used items such as cell phones with the Houston Zoo, you help protect animals like chimpanzees and gorillas that live in areas where cell phone materials are mined.

You are always welcome to bring any used handheld to recycle – we have a drop off bin conveniently located just outside our main entrance gate next to the Guest Services office.

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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 other handheld electronics such as tablets. This metal comes from the ground in Central Africa, which happens to be where animals like chimpanzees and gorillas live. When the metal is taken from these habitats to be used in electronics, the homes of chimps, gorillas and an array of other animals become disrupted and these animal populations decrease.

When you recycle your used cell phone with us…

The materials in the electronics can be reused instead of mining new minerals from the ground in Central Africa.

When you recycle at the Houston 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 help save animals in the wild.

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

Who can participate?

Any local school, business, organization, or scout group can participate. Simply complete the registration form at the bottom of this page and start your recycling campaign! All qualified items collected by April 30, 2018 will be recycled through the company Eco-Cell.

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How do I sign my school or organization up?

Fill out the online registration form at the bottom of this page and begin collecting! Get the word out about the challenge to others in your school or organization by creating posters, hanging up the content provided by the Zoo, spreading the word and having fun saving animals in the wild!

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What are the contest rules?

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All participating institutions must register online.. Once registered, you will receive an e-mail during the campaign providing you with information to receive your free shipping labels for your school or community organization!
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All items must be collected by April 30, 2018. Only those qualified handheld electronics 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.  Remember every little bit helps!
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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, 2018. Eco-Cell will count the qualified items to determine the winner.
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The school or organization that recycles the most by April 30, 2018 will receive a unique painting done by one of the Zoo’s gorilla troops. Both the first and second place schools/organizations will receive recognition on our Houston Zoo Facebook pages and social media outlets.
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The Houston Zoo will announce the Action for Apes 2018 winners no later than June 1, 2018.
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Schools and organizations begin by creating your own recycling bin and decorating it with Houston Zoo promotional materials as well as any artwork designed by participants.
Learn more about cell phone recycling in the new Great Ape Gallery at Gorillas

What do we win if we collect the most handheld electronics?

The school or organization that recycles the most by April 30, 2018 will win a one-of-a-kind painting done by one of the Houston Zoo’s gorilla troops! The painting can be hung at your institution as a reminder of your efforts to protect chimpanzees and gorillas in the wild.

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On the left, a painting created by Houston Zoo chimpanzees. On the right, a painting created by one of the Houston Zoo’s gorilla troops. The winner receives a painting created just for your school or group!

Before donating your devices: Make sure you terminate your service or switch your contract to a new phone. Clear any personal data from the by removing the SIM card or manually removing the information. On most handheld electronics, you can find “Reset” under “Settings.” Turn your electronic off, if the battery is still charged.

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
  • Handheld gaming devices
  • GPS
  • Electronic accessories such as chargers, blue tooth headsets, etc.

Video: Action for Apes


How local students are participating in Action for Apes, and how you can too!


Printables for Promoting Your Campaign
Print these PDFs and post them around your school or organization to get the word out about recycling cell phones:

Action for Apes Information Package

Action-for-Apes-Parent-Letter

Action for Apes – Campaign Specific

 Action for Apes – 2018 Campaign Material

Year Long – Tantulum Graphic

 Chimpanzee w graphic

 Okapi w graphic

 Mandrill w graphic


*Not all listed are counted towards challenge

Questions? Contact conservation@houstonzoo.org