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Zoo Atlanta joins global celebration of gorillas

Second-annual World Gorilla Day unites people around the world in highlighting conservation action.

Zoo Atlanta observes World Gorilla Day on Saturday, September 22, 2018, joining an opportunity for people around the world to come together in celebrating gorillas and taking action to protect them in the wild.

Zoo Atlanta was one of the first organizations to observe World Gorilla Day, which is officially observed on September 24. The date commemorates the anniversary of Karisoke Research Center, operated by the Zoo’s longtime partner in gorilla conservation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Established in 1967 by Dian Fossey, Karisoke is the longest running gorilla field study site dedicated to the 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 program support, as well as shared scientific staff.

Guests who bring an old cell phone to Zoo Atlanta on September 22 will enjoy $5 off regularly-priced 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 only in a few places on Earth, one of which is the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Zoo Atlanta was proud to have been one of the first organizations to celebrate World Gorilla Day in 2017, and the Zoo and our partners in gorilla conservation worldwide are energized to participate in an even broader global observance in 2018,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. “Gorillas represent an area of significant long-term leadership for Zoo Atlanta, and we have a responsibility to translate that leadership into helping to protect wild gorillas. It’s our hope that our observance of the event, and the many great events taking place around the U.S. and around the world, will serve as new inspirations for personal conservation action.”

World Gorilla Day activities will take place 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 one of North America’s largest populations of western lowland gorillas. Commemorative World Gorilla Day buttons will be available while supplies last. Button proceeds support conservation of wild gorillas through on-the-ground protection, research and monitoring, and targeted stakeholder engagement and education.

The western lowland gorilla is classified as critically endangered. According to the International Union for 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.

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 for extractive industries such as mining.

Twenty-three gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, and all have been reared in families by their mothers or by a gorilla surrogate. The youngest of these is Mijadala, who turned 2 on September 18, 2018.

Research by Zoo Atlanta staff has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced the world’s understanding of gorillas, 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 disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. The Zoo is a Platinum Supporter of the AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation.

Learn more about conservation programs and partnerships at Zoo Atlanta here, and click here for more on World Gorilla Day and for a list of participating organizations.

The cell phone recycling discount is valid in-person only on Saturday, September 22, 2018, and may not be combined with any other offer or promotion.

Zoo Atlanta will observe modified operating hours on September 22 in preparation for Sippin’ Safari presented by Groupon. Admission gates will close at 2 p.m.; Zoo grounds will close at 3 p.m.

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

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

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; one of North America’s largest zoological populations 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 and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round 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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