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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.

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