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Celebrate the first-ever World Gorilla Day

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.

Visit here to learn more about conservation programs at Zoo Atlanta. For more information on World Gorilla Day and for a list of participating organizations, visit worldgorilladay.org.

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.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Davis
Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell
rdavis@zooatlanta.org

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations & Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office
gjohnson@zooatlanta.org

About the gorilla program at Zoo Atlanta
The arrival of Zoo Atlanta’s most famous great ape resident, the late Willie B., in 1961, evolved into what is today a nationally-recognized program for the care and behavioral study of critically endangered western lowland gorillas. Twenty-three gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of the landmark Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, with all infants having been mother-reared or reared by a gorilla surrogate. In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of its gorilla program, Zoo Atlanta earned the distinguished Edward H. Bean Award for Significant Achievement from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its long-term commitment to the species. Research published by Zoo Atlanta staff has resulted in more than 100 scientific papers on gorilla behavior, biology, reproduction and care. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first coordinated effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa. Zoo Atlanta’s primary partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is headquartered at Zoo Atlanta and protects and supports gorillas and their habitats in Africa.

About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; North America’s largest zoological population of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. The Zoo’s newest experience, Treetop Trail presented by Kaiser Permanente, opened in March 2017. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas, lemurs and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.

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