Each year, the Houston Zoo hosts our Action for Apes cell phone recycling contest. From January-April, local schools and other community organizations collect cell phones and other small electronics to be recycled and reused. Small electronics contain a material called tantalum, which is mined in Central Africa where animals like gorillas, okapis and mandrills live. By recycling electronics we can reduce the demand for tantalum, helping to protect wildlife habitat.
This year, the winner of Action for Apes was Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi. In addition to recycling more than 530 electronic devices to save wildlife, one of the 6th grade classes did a special English unit on the book, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate. This book is inspired by a true story of a gorilla that lived most of its’ life alone in a circus-themed mall. Students at Incarnate Word Academy read the book and researched wildlife conservation. They focused on gorillas and elephants and created reports about what they learned. Here are a few of the reports from these young conservation heroes!
This project was created by James Edge, Charlie Flood, and Alex Alonso-Bauer:
“We have all learned a lot about the importance of gorillas, a now endangered species. During the course of this project, we had fun learning and even learned the importance of teamwork. This project taught us to be mindful and not to just look out for ourselves in this world. Gorillas need our help. We need to raise awareness about poaching, animal cruelty, and the decline of gorillas, elephants, rhinos, and other critically endangered species. In the future, we will help by raising awareness and donating to organizations that will help gorillas and other animals alike. We have to stop the abuse and the decline of these innocent animals.”
This project was created by Adriana Wilde, Amanda Montgomery, and Andrea Reyes:
“This project has been an amazing experience to learn from. We learned that gorillas are magnificent, interesting, and fascinating creatures. However, there are people that kill animals for profit and do not think twice about it. We also learned that working as a group is very important because you tend to look at things differently. It taught us that by taking even the smallest of steps, you can still change the world. This project impacted us in a unique way, especially Ivan’s inspiring story. He inspired many people across the country with this story. It never stops amazing us how all that’s needed to save gorillas is to start a simple conversation about them. We hope other students all over the world could learn the same lessons we have learned in the course of this project. There is no doubt they will become inspired and want to make a change as well. In the future, we will really do our best to raise awareness about poaching elephants for their ivory. We will also tell everyone, from our friends to our next door neighbors, about gorillas and their crisis. Gorillas are very important to our ecosystem, so please, let’s work together to help get these animals off the endangered species list.”
This project was created by Patrick Ficenec and Demitri Lopez:
“From this project, we’ve learned many things about gorillas, such as their habitat, diet, socialization, behavior, and many other interesting facts. It was really cool to research and see how gorillas behave, and how similar they are to humans. We didn’t’ realize how close gorillas are to extinction until we started this project. There are only about 100,000 gorillas left in the world. The mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with less than 900 left in the world. From this point, and in the future, we will continue to educate people about the plight of gorillas and other apes. We want to work to save these animals before they are extinct.”
The Houston Zoo would like to thank the students and teachers at Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi for their tremendous work to save gorillas and other animals in the wild. You too can take action to save wildlife by recycling your small electronics at the front entrance of the Zoo and holding off on buying new electronics until it is absolutely necessary!