It’s no secret that gorillas are one of the most loved and recognizable species of our time. They are known for their unparalleled size and strength, as well as their striking resemblance to humans. Unfortunately, they are also world-renowned due to their struggle for survival in our constantly developing world. All of these reasons and more prompted the creation of World Gorilla Day back in 2016. This day is meant not only to celebrate this incredible species, but to encourage people around the globe to take action to save the mighty gorilla.
How can you save a species that lives on the other side of the globe you ask? The answer, as it turns out, fits in the palm of your hand. Cell phones contain a material called tantalum that is mined in areas where gorillas live. The over use of such a resource comes at a price – wildlife habitats and natural landscapes like those that the gorillas call home are altered, sometimes beyond repair. However, if we reuse and recycle small electronics like our cell phones, we can decrease the amount of mining that takes place in these vital habitats!
Pretty simple right? To contribute to saving gorillas all you have to do is dig those old cell phones out of the bottom of your drawer and recycle them! I know what you’re thinking – “that’s great and I want to help, but where in the world do I bring my old phone?” To the Zoo of course! Our electronics recycling box lives on Zoo grounds year-round, right by the guest services office near the front entrance. So, not only do you save wildlife through your admission to the Zoo, but you take it a step further each time you bring an old handheld electronic device with you to recycle!
If you’re feeling extra inspired, consider getting your school or organization signed up for the next Action for Apes Challenge. The Action for Apes challenge is an annual contest hosted by the Houston Zoo to see which team can recycle the most handheld electronics by the end of APE-ril. Just last year the challenge yielded a total of 1,977 handheld electronic devices – that’s 1,977 actions to help save animals in the wild! The Houston Zoo has been protecting gorillas in the wild for the past 10 years by providing training, funding and resources for three gorilla conservation projects in Central Africa-–Gorilla Doctors, Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE), and Conservation Heritage-Turambe–and is home to a renowned gorilla habitat.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is celebrating World Gorilla Day this year by launching a global, mobile phone recycling challenge, Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call, based on the Houston Zoo’s very own Action for Apes Challenge. This will reach zoos and aquariums across the nation and the world to engage thousands of students, schools, community organizations and businesses to answer this important call: to help save gorillas in the wild.