Gorilla Guardians: Houstonians are Protecting Gorillas through Electronics Recycling at the Zoo!

What do the zoo, cell phones, and Grauer’s gorillas have in common? YOU! Each year, the Houston Zoo runs the Action for Apes Challenge, in which community groups and organizations can sign up and compete against each other to recycle the greatest number of cell phones and small electronics by the end of April.  These electronic devices contain a material called tantalum that is mined in areas where gorillas live – if we reuse and recycle these items, we can decrease the amount of mining that takes place in these vital habitats. The good news doesn’t stop there – you have the opportunity to recycle these devices on zoo grounds year-round each time you visit, and just through the purchase of your admission ticket you are helping to support our partners at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in their work to save the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla in the wild!

Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), GRACE is the world’s only sanctuary for rescued Grauer’s gorillas. While nursing orphaned gorillas back to health and reintroducing them into the wild is the ultimate goal for the team at GRACE, their work extends far beyond that. GRACE works with local communities on conservation education and forest protection, as well as helping Congolese communities develop long-term solutions that will allow for them to live and work peacefully alongside neighboring gorilla troops. Working with a critically endangered species in a country that has a long history of war and insecurity comes with its own unique challenges, but the success that GRACE has seen speaks volumes to the importance and power of community involvement in saving wildlife.

Despite the return of political instability to the DRC in 2017, GRACE was able to not only continue their day-to-day operations but also launched projects that provided employment for more than 250 people. In addition, they were able to invest in projects like tree planting, village clean-ups, and starting vegetable gardens at local schools to help get communities through these hard times. GRACE hosted the first annual World Gorilla Day celebrating gorillas and their importance to the community, and had a turn out of over 3,000 people – the largest local gathering in recent memory! The team was also able to expand the forest habitat for the 14 orphaned Grauer’s gorillas in their care, giving these gorillas an additional 15 acres to practice skills needed for life in the wild.

This year, GRACE will open the newly expanded gorilla habitat and complete its Community Education Center, which will become a central meeting place for education activities and community collaboration. Thanks to new partnerships within the DRC, the education program will expand, reaching more individuals living within the gorilla home range and spreading awareness and encouraging peaceful coexistence with these non-human primates. GRACE will also launch an exciting new project with local communities in the coming months – a fuel-efficient stove project. By reducing the amount of wood used to fuel cooking fires, this project will help save trees that make up vital gorilla habitat!

Our partners at GRACE are doing amazing work that is a win for both people and gorillas, and we could not be more proud to be a part of their extended family. By visiting the zoo you are helping to support the work of GRACE and our other partners around the globe that are working non-stop to save wildlife. Remember, you can help great apes like gorillas and chimpanzees directly by recycling your old cell-phones and small electronics on your next visit to the zoo, and challenge others to do the same!

Rwandan Vet, Dr. Noel from Gorilla Doctors Helps Save Texas Wildlife While Training at the Houston Zoo

Many of our guests have already had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jean Bosco Noheri (Dr. Noel) during his SOS Member Morning chat with the primate team at gorillas. Dr. Noel is here from our partners at Gorilla Doctors after being chosen by the Houston Zoo admissions team as a 2017 Wildlife Warrior Award recipient.  This award is funded through the sale of saving wildlife bracelets sold by the admissions team, and recognizes exceptional individuals from our wildlife conservation partner programs. The award provides wildlife warriors with an experience that will increase their abilities/knowledge – Dr. Noel chose to use this as an opportunity to train with our veterinary staff here at the zoo. As part of his training, Dr. Noel has been assisting with efforts to save some of our amazing local species, the Houston toad and green sea turtles – experiences he was very excited to share with all of you!

Friday, February 9th was the beginning of the Houston toad captive populations breeding season. This colony lives at the zoo and is cared for by members of our herpetology and veterinary teams. The goal is to help healthy toads breed and lay eggs, with the hope that surviving offspring will boost Houston toad numbers in the wild, and add genetic diversity to the existing population, which is essential for any species’ survival. Before the first round of breeding for each season, Houston Zoo Vet Dr. Maryanne examines each toad and provides Stan Mays, our herpetology curator, with a list of healthy females who are at the right age to lay viable eggs. Based on genetic analysis, Stan then provides a list of ideal male-female pairings and the toads are coupled for breeding purposes. Before the females are introduced to their partners, they receive a series of hormone injections to help their bodies prepare for mating, and if all goes well, egg laying! Just last year, the Houston Toad team was able to release 900,000 eggs back into the wild, which is an incredible success for a species that would otherwise be on the brink of extinction. This year, our partner Dr. Noel arrived just in time for breeding season, and got to help administer the first round of injections to 20 lucky females! Reflecting on his experience, Dr. Noel said “working with the Houston toad was really very special – to see something so small and to see how much people care for it because it carries hope for this species, was very powerful.”

Dr. Noel has also had the opportunity practice his wildlife saving skills on another Texas species – the green sea turtle! Accompanied by Dr. Joe Flanagan, Houston Zoo Sr. Veterinarian and long-time sea turtle protector, Dr. Noel made the short journey down to Galveston where he visited our partners at NOAA Fisheries. While at the sea turtle barn, Dr. Noel helped to weigh and x-ray a number of sea turtles that had been rescued along the coastline to make sure they were in good health. He and Dr. Joe also checked up on a recent surgical patient to make sure the sea turtle’s incision was healing properly. Dr. Noel recalled that the “sea turtle was doing very well and it was neat to work with this species because most people would not think you could do medical procedures on reptiles.” After their veterinary work was done, Dr. Noel was able to tour the NOAA facility, and learn about the turtle excluder devices (TEDs) they develop to ensure that shrimp boats do not catch sea turtles when they go out to sea. To cap off the day, Dr. Noel had his very first experience on the beach after only having seen the ocean from planes!

While both of these species are very different than most of Dr. Noel’s typical mountain gorilla patients, veterinary training and the ability to practice his skills on a variety of species is vital, as he is often called upon to care for wildlife other than gorillas back in Rwanda, like elephants, golden monkeys, and jackals. All of the new and additional skills and lessons Dr. Noel gains through training with the veterinary team here will help him and his team back home on their quest to save Rwanda’s wildlife! To learn more about Gorilla Doctors and see Dr. Noel in action, watch the KPRC special “Saving Gorillas: From Houston to Rwanda” here! 

For the 11th annual Wildlife Conservation Gala at the Houston Zoo, we’re shining a spotlight on the species and habitats of the Lone Star State! We’ll come together as Texans to raise the funds our Zoo needs to keep saving Texas wildlife like the Houston toad.

No Ordinary Veterinarian: Houston Zoo’s Gorilla Saving Wildlife Warrior Dr. Noel Comes to Town

Dr. Noel and Dr. Methode work together in the lab
Dr. Eddy working with Houston Zoo veterinary staff on his visit to Texas

For those of us with pets at home, if one of our animals gets sick, we hop in our cars and drive to an office where the veterinarian does an examination and provides us with a course of treatment. It is a fairly simple process here in the city, but what if our pets didn’t have us there to help them? Wild animals encounter this problem regularly, and it is especially difficult for species like mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorillas to receive care due to their homes being located in mountainous regions with dense forest cover. Luckily, our partners at Gorilla Doctors are not afraid of a challenge, and their dedicated team of veterinarians sometimes trek up to 6 hours in order to provide care to wild gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gorilla Doctors is dedicated to saving ill or injured gorillas, one patient at a time, and each time you visit the Zoo, you are helping to support projects like Gorilla Doctors, even making it possible for us to bring members of their team here for important veterinary training.

Dr. Ricky and Dr. Fred assist with a sea turtle release on their trip to Texas

 

 

The Houston Zoo has a long history of working with veterinarians from Gorilla Doctors, having had 4 members of their team come to Houston over the past several years to work alongside our veterinary staff. These team members include: Dr. Eddy from the DRC, Dr. Methode from Rwanda, and Dr. Ricky and Dr. Fred from Uganda. We are excited to announce that a 5th gorilla doctor, Dr. Noel, will be traveling to Houston for training in February!

Dr. Jean Bosco Noheri (Dr. Noel for short) first joined the staff of Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda as a laboratory technician in 2009 and rose through the ranks to become a field veterinarian in 2012. Every week, he treks into the Volcanoes National Park to check on the health of the mountain gorilla families. Noel received the Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Award in 2017, which is funded through the sale of saving wildlife bracelets sold by the Admissions Team here at the Zoo! This award recognizes exceptional individuals from our wildlife conservation partner programs and provides an experience that will increase their abilities/knowledge.

Dr.Noel will be the 5th Gorilla Doctor to receive training at the Houston Zoo

Because Dr. Noel is often called upon to care for other wildlife in Volcanoes National Park, like elephants, golden monkeys, and jackals, he will participate in hands-on clinical training with our veterinary staff so he can apply new and additional skills and lessons to save Rwanda’s wildlife. Keep an eye out for him during the first week of February, and if you see him on grounds don’t hesitate to say hello!

 

Mountain Gorilla Population on the Rise

The Houston Zoo loves its’ troop of gorillas, and we do everything we can to protect gorillas in the wild.

The critically endangered mountain gorilla can be found in three countries; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.  These gorillas have adapted to living higher up in the mountains and despite pressures from poaching, habitat loss, and disease, our wildlife partners in Africa have seen an increase in the mountain gorilla population over the last several years, thanks to dedicated protection efforts!

Here at the Houston Zoo we are proud to support a number of organizations that work tirelessly to protect mountain gorillas in the wild. Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT) runs after-school programs for local primary school students and community outreach efforts that promote both healthy living habits and gorilla conservation through education and empowerment in communities bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Gorilla Doctors, an organization comprised of an international team of veterinarians, is the only group providing mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas with direct, hands-on care in the wild. In addition to monitoring gorilla health and providing medical care, the veterinary team further protects gorillas by supporting health programs for people and their animals living and working in and around gorilla habitat. GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center) provides care for rescued Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and works alongside local communities to ensure gorilla survival in the wild. Facilities like GRACE are essential to this endangered species’ survival, and zoo staff is able to aid field researchers in meeting husbandry and management challenges for rescued gorillas housed at GRACE. The Houston Zoo acts as a resource to secure funding for these incredible programs, as well as offering training for project staff.

Each time you visit the zoo, you are helping to support these programs and protect gorillas in the wild! And remember, you can help to save gorilla habitat by recycling your cell phone and other handheld electronics during your next visit! These electronic devices contain a material called tantalum that is mined in areas where gorillas live – if we reuse and recycle these items, we can decrease the amount of mining that takes place in these vital habitats.

Wildlife Warrior Award Winner Visits Uganda

Our admissions’ team raises funds to help save animals in the wild through the sales of colorful wildlife bracelets guests can buy at the entrance to the Zoo.  In 2015, the Zoo established this conservation hero award program called Wildlife Warriors to use the bracelet funds to recognize and enhance the outstanding staff employed by the Zoo’s existing conservation partners. The program has awarded 15 Wildlife Warriors to date from our conservation projects in developing countries. All of the warriors honored were carefully chosen by the Zoo’s admissions’ team. The award is designed to increase the recipient’s conservation community network and inspire empowerment by providing opportunities to gain further education through training or experiences.

Valerie Akuredusenge, Program Director of Conservation Heritage-Turambe was selected as a Wildlife Warrior in 2016. Just last month she completed her training with a conservation education program in nearby Uganda called UNITE. Below is an account of Valerie’s training, in her own words:

To wrap up my story telling about my time with Unite, I am happy to share about my experience and what I took back from my visit.

During my visit with UNITE for the Environment,  I was able to learn about their conservation programs namely Teacher Training and Evaluation by observing teachers while they are teaching in the classroom to assess teaching methods, quality of content used, and whether or not they are integrating environmental education into their teaching.  In addition, I was also given the opportunity to visit two partner schools of UNITE.

What I took back from UNITE to CHT:

What I took back from the UNITE’s Teacher Training is that their approach helps in terms of sharing conservation messages to a wider audience  and one can expand upon the program to more areas. As far as CHT builds up its teacher training through annual open day, my experience with UNITE will significantly contribute in terms of strengthening and improving our existing program.

As far as the UNITE’s evaluation is concerned, I had time to also observe teachers while they were teaching.  By connecting my experience from Teacher training and that of teacher observation, I could really tell that the teachers were integrating environmental education in their teaching. This is another approach that CHT will try to see if it applies by collaborating with its partner schools and education officers.

By also visiting UNITE’s partner schools, I learned about what communities and schools are doing in terms of environmental conservation.

In short; I deeply thank the Houston Zoo and its Admission Team for having selected me as one of their wildlife warrior winners in 2016. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the North Carolina Zoo for their wonderful program, UNITE for the Environment. Corrine Kendall finds my sincere thanks here as well for playing an important role while putting me in touch with UNITE. Additionally, I would however request a continuous collaboration between CHT and UNITE so we can keep on exchanging programs and learning from each other.

Houston Zoo Conservation Partner Visits the United States-Part II

This blog was written by Valerie Akuredusenge, the Program Director of Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT). CHT is a conservation partner of the Houston Zoo. Valerie visited us in March to build her capacity and skills to further educate local communities living alongside Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. This is one blog in a series about Valerie’s experience in the United States.

Hi there. This is Valerie Akuredusenge, the Program Director of Conservation Heritage – Turambe with more news about my visit at Houston Zoo.

Martha Parker, the Houston Zoo staff member took me to the Zoo as I continued to enjoy my visit. I was very excited to see how big the Zoo is and what kinds of animals are calling the Zoo their home. To be honest with you, I couldn’t visit all animals in the Zoo but it was my goal. The Houston Zoo is huge!! I was only able to see about half of the animals in the Zoo.  Regarding the animals I saw, some were familiar to me, others I had no idea they have ever existed on this Planet Earth!  I was so impressed by seeing the coral reef. I went back home to Rwanda and shared my experiences, but even so, my colleagues back in Rwanda do not get the idea about what is the coral reef. I will try to keep explaining it to them.

I learned a lot from my visit with the Houston Zoo and still cannot finish telling the story about it.

I learned about the cell phone recycling system that is helping save gorillas in wild.

Valerie posing with the Zoo's recycled cell phone statue.
Valerie posing with the Zoo’s recycled cell phone statue.

I learned about the recycling and reusing methods at Houston Zoo.

Palm oil tree created by our primate staff to showcase the everyday items that contain palm oil, and which companies to buy from who are making palm oil in a way friendly to wildlife.
Palm oil tree created by our primate staff to showcase the everyday items that contain palm oil, and which companies to buy from who are making palm oil in a way friendly to wildlife.

They are growing a vegetable garden at Houston Zoo. And guess what – we are doing the same thing at CHT too!

Children's Zoo vegetable garden-complete with a rain barrel to harvest and catch rain water.
Children’s Zoo vegetable garden-complete with a rain barrel to harvest and catch rain water.

Once again, thank you very much Houston Zoo for hosting me. I learned a lot during my visit which I have started applying and sharing at Conservation Heritage – Turambe (CHT). More to come soon!

Meet the Houston Zoo 2016 Wildlife Warriors

Our admissions’ team raises funds to help save animals in the wild through the sales of colorful wildlife bracelets guests can buy at the entrance to the Zoo.  In 2015, the Zoo established a conservation hero award program to use the bracelet funds to recognize and enhance the outstanding staff employed by the Zoo’s existing conservation partners. The program, named Wildlife Warriors, has just awarded four new 2016 Wildlife Warriors from our conservation projects in developing countries. Each and every warrior honored was carefully chosen by the Zoo’s admissions’ team – the group of folks our guests interact with on a daily basis. The award is designed to increase the recipient’s conservation community network and inspire empowerment by providing opportunities to gain further education through training or experiences.

The recipients are nominated by their directors and in most cases are unaware of their nomination until they are contacted by our admissions staff to announce the award.  The directors submit specific examples of exceptional conservation leadership being carried out by the individual as well as a description of what further training or skill building opportunity they would be interested in.  The 2016 Wildlife Warriors are from our partner projects all over the world saving sharks, painted dogs, gorillas, and giant armadillos. Here are this year’s winners.


Valerie Akuredusenge:

ValerieValerie is saving gorillas and other wildlife in Rwanda, Africa.  She was born and raised in Rwanda and is a teacher in a village that is close to gorilla habitat.  She educates local people that live in areas that surround gorillas about the importance of the gorillas.  Locals don’t normally see gorillas, even though they live very close to them.  She takes children into the forest to see gorillas for the first time.  This is what a few of the children have said after seeing gorillas for the first time:

  • “I did not know they have eyes!”
  • “I didn’t know they feel happy like we do!”
  • “I didn’t know they play like we do!”

Valerie wants to see how another conservation program educates children about wildlife, so the Zoo will set up an opportunity for her to travel to another wildlife conservation partner project we have in Africa.


Hilmar Salazar:

Shark conservationsist

Hilmar is saving sharks and other marine wildlife with Mar Alliance in Belize.  He was born, and now raises his own family, in a small village in Belize.  He has relied on the ocean for his food and livelihood for his entire life and now works to save it by protecting large marine wildlife like sharks and rays.  He conducts research by setting up cameras underwater, tagging sharks, rays and sea turtles and empowers local people and children to protect the ocean.

Hilmar would like leadership and computer training and the Zoo will assist in making that wish a reality.


Enock Zulu:

enock

Zulu is saving Painted dogs and other wildlife in Zimbabwe, Africa.  He was born and grew up in Zimbabwe and is now the Anti-poaching team manager at Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe.  He and his team have risked their lives to collect over 12 784 snares, rescued 11 animals from snares, arrested over 89 poachers.  He empowers and coordinates wildlife saving planning with many local community members and is very well respected and appreciated in the area.

Zulu would benefit from seeing another anti-poaching unit’s operations in Africa.  The Zoo will fund him to travel to another project to experience different techniques and exchange ideas.

 


Gabriel Massocato:

Gabriel

Gabriel is saving giant armadillos and other wildlife in Brazil.  He is a biologist from Brazil that works for our partner at the Giant Armadillo Project.  He conducts research, collaborates and trains many other Brazilians and educates children to protect giant armadillos in the wild.  Gabriel wants to be fluent in English to increase his impact with his conservation efforts and the Houston Zoo will make that happen through this award.

All of these Wildlife Warriors have deep rooted connections with their communities and are leading the way in saving animals from extinction.  The Houston Zoo is very proud of and grateful for all of these Wildlife Warriors and their projects.  Every time you visit the Houston Zoo a portion of your admission goes to protecting animals in the wild through projects like these.  The next time you visit be sure to ask the Zoo staff you buy your ticket from about these amazing Wildlife Warriors.

Recycle Electronics with the NCAA Final Four, Save Gorillas, Get Tickets to Fan Fest!

Recycle your electronics with the NCAA Final Four on Sunday, March 13, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Discovery Green, and help save gorillas! Recycling your electronics helps save wildlife like gorillas and chimpanzees who live in habitats where electronic materials are mined. By reusing our materials, we ensure their habitat is protected.

Mountain-gorilla-PRiger-2015-Rwanda

There are more than 250 million cell phone users in the United States alone and the average lifespan of a cell phone is 18 months. That means there are A LOT of cell phones being produced to meet our demand. Each cell phone requires specific metals to be manufactured. One material used in cell phones, tantalum, is found in Central Africa — a rain forest home to animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, okapis and mandrills. If we recycle cell phones and other electronics like cameras and laptops, the materials taken from wildlife habitats can be reused, allowing those habitats to be protected.

Coltan-Tantalum-Cell-Phone-Recycling-Apes

Everyone who recycles items at this event will be entered into a chance to win a gorilla tour at the Houston Zoo! The tour is good for 5 people over the age of 12. Tour must be redeemed by September 30th, 2016. Tour available T/TH/SA/SU.

In cooperation with NCAA Corporate Partner LG Electronics USA and EPC (Executive Personal Computers), a FREEElectronics Recycling Event will be held on Sunday, March 13, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Discovery Green in conjunction with the Selection Sunday Celebration. Those who bring their electronics for responsible will receive a FREE ticket to Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One.Take-Action_Small_Tile

Items accepted: computers, computer components, home electronics, small home and office electronics, and gaming equipment.

Items not accepted: manifested hazardous, radioactive and bio-hazardous waste, devices that contain mercury or freon, large appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers, as well as light bulbs and microwaves.

Please join the Houston Zoo, NCAA Final Four, LG Electronics USA and EPC in this important recycling effort. By recycling your electronics, you are ensuring wildlife like gorillas and chimpanzees are protected in the wild!

And don’t forget, you can always recycle your small electronics at the Zoo’s main entrance! Take Action_Logo_FullColor_web

Students Saving Wildlife!

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.

Tantalum_diagram_2014

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!

AFA-gorilla-2

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!

recycle-cell-phones-do-your-part

Houston Zoo Wildlife Partners Work Together to Save Gorillas!

The Houston Zoo partners with organizations around the world to save wildlife. In Central Africa, we partner with 3 organizations (GRACE, Gorilla Doctors and Conservation Heritage-Turambe) who all work to save gorillas in the wild. These organizations often work together to achieve their missions of making sure gorillas are safe in the wild. Below is an update from Conservation Heritage-Turambe who recently had a Gorilla Doctors staff member visit their classroom to teach Rwandan youth about what it’s like to work in the field as a veterinarian for wild gorillas.

Blog written by Valerie Akuredusenge, Program Director of the conservation education program, Conservation Heritage-Turambe (Rwanda). 

Conservation Heritage – Turambe (CHT) partners with Gorilla Doctors on messaging and leading classes on the conservation and protection of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Last week, Dr. Methode Bahizi (Gorilla Doctors) came to a CHT class to talk about when, why, and how they treat mountain gorillas.

Dr. Methode Bahizi from Gorilla Doctors discusses when, why and how they treat mountain gorillas in the field.
Dr. Methode Bahizi from Gorilla Doctors discusses when, why and how they treat mountain gorillas in the field.

During his discussion with students, he focused on activities that Gorillas Doctors do such as monitoring the health of gorillas, treating ill and injured gorillas, doing research, conducting necropsies and collecting samples to analyze them. He also demonstrated how they treat gorillas using real equipment.

Dr. Methode Bahizi shows some of the equipment used by Gorilla Doctors to CHT students.
Dr. Methode Bahizi shows some of the equipment used by Gorilla Doctors to CHT students.

This lesson is very important for CHT students because they learn about their community’s natural resources. In addition, Rwandan students see someone from their local community with a very important conservation job, which helps them to understand what jobs they could grow up and have if they work hard.

Gorilla Doctors staff demonstrates how they use dart guns to treat sick gorillas in the wild.
Gorilla Doctors staff demonstrates how they use dart guns to treat sick gorillas in the wild.

During the lesson, CHT students realize how their health is really linked to that of mountain gorillas.  Humans get the same illnesses that mountain gorillas get such as pneumonia, intestinal parasites (protozoans or worms) and some of these parasites affect humans and gorillas equally.

Using a stuffed gorilla toy, Dr. Methode acts out the entire scenario one may go through while treating/taking care of a sick gorilla.
Using a stuffed gorilla toy, Dr. Methode acts out the entire scenario one may go through while treating/taking care of a sick gorilla.

CHT team thanks so much Gorilla Doctors for coming to class to keep on inspiring the future conservationists of Rwanda.

You can help gorillas all the way from Houston by simply visiting the Zoo! A portion of every ticket sold goes directly to our wildlife saving efforts. In addition, you can recycle your small electronics (like cell phones) at our main gate. These electronics contain a material mined in gorilla habitat and when we recycle that material, less of it needs to be mined from the homes of gorillas. Find out more about taking action at the Houston Zoo here!

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