Zoo Atlanta joins the global conservation community in celebrating the first-ever World Gorilla Day on Sunday, September 24, 2017. World Gorilla Day creates the opportunity for people all over the world to come together in celebrating gorillas and taking action to protect them in the wild.
The inaugural World Gorilla Day also marks the 50th anniversary of when the late Dian Fossey began her groundbreaking work to study and conserve gorillas. The Karisoke Research Center, founded by Fossey and operated by Zoo Atlanta’s longtime partner in gorilla conservation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is the longest-running gorilla field study site dedicated to conservation, protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Zoo Atlanta has been a significant partner of the Fossey Fund for more than 20 years and provides headquarters space, information technology support and financial support for the organization. Over the years, the Zoo has also provided critical board leadership and support for programs, as well as shared scientific staff.
Guests who bring an old or unused cell phone to Zoo Atlanta on September 24 will enjoy $5 off general admission for up to four guests. Zoo Atlanta partners with the Fossey Fund and Eco-Cell to recycle cell phones and other electronics to help save wild gorillas by eliminating the demand for coltan, a rare mineral used in the production of mobile phones. Coltan is found in only a few places on Earth, one of which is the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Zoo Atlanta is proud to be among the first organizations to celebrate World Gorilla Day. With an award-winning gorilla program that dates back more than 50 years, we have a responsibility to be leaders in helping to protect these apes in the wild,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions at Zoo Atlanta and the Director of the Great Ape Heart Project headquartered at Zoo Atlanta. “We hope this will be a day that inspires personal conservation action worldwide.”
World Gorilla day activities will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Highlights will include special Keeper Talks, educational activities and opportunities to hear from Zoo Atlanta’s primate care professionals and representatives from The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in the home of North America’s largest population of western lowland gorillas. The western lowland gorilla – the only one of the four gorilla subspecies currently housed in zoos – is classified as critically endangered. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases have reduced western lowland gorilla populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa. Populations living within North American zoos are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations.
Twenty-three gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of the landmark Ford African Rain Forest in 1988. The youngest of these is Mijadala, who turned 1 on September 18, 2017. Research by Zoo Atlanta staff has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced understanding of gorilla biology, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac diseases across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos.
All four subspecies of gorilla – the Cross River gorilla, Grauer’s gorilla, mountain gorilla and western lowland gorilla – are critically endangered, and all share the combined threats of illegal poaching, civil unrest, disease and habitat destruction as a result of extractive industries such as mining.
The cell phone recycling admission discount is valid in-person only on Sunday, September 24, 2017, and may not be combined with any other offer or promotion.