When gorillas are on the line, it’s up to us to answer the call! The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is looking to the community-at-large to help save gorillas by donating old or used cellphones to the Zoo for recycling as part of Gorillas on the Line from Saturday, Feb. 1 through Thursday, April 30.
The Zoo is home to 10 western lowland gorillas, five males and five females, ranging in age from 34-year-old Emily to 19-month-old Finyezi. The species is critically endangered with only about 350,000 individuals remaining in the wild.
“Small electronics like cellphones frequently contain a substance called coltan and 80% of the world's supply is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an area also home to many gorillas,” said Stephanie Smith, OKC Zoo senior primate caretaker. “Mining for coltan threatens the habitats of gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi and other endangered species. When individuals donate used phones or other electronics, the coltan from those devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound in gorilla habitats.”
Schools, organizations, businesses and individuals are encouraged to collect as many cellphones and electronics as they can in support of gorilla conservation. Last year, more than 260,000 people were engaged in the campaign, collecting 12,486 devices that were recycled and raising $6,055 for gorilla conservation. For 2020, Gorillas on the Line hopes to collect 20,000 cell phones for recycling and engage 200,000 children and other community members in gorilla conservation action. Any kind of cellphone will be accepted — even the big, heavy ones from years ago that wouldn’t come close to fitting in your pocket now. Acceptable small electronics include: iPods, iPads, tablets, MP3 players and handheld gaming systems. These items can be dropped off for recycling in the Zoo’s Guest Services office in the entry plaza.
As an added incentive those who bring an old cellphone or small electronic device to donate to “Gorillas on the Line” will receive two Zoo general admission passes valid through April 30, 2021. Guests are welcome to donate additional devices, but will only receive two Zoo passes as a thank you for helping save gorillas.
Here’s a wild idea — disconnect from your cell and reconnect with nature at the Oklahoma City Zoo! On Sunday, Feb. 2, in exchange for free general admission, the Zoo is challenging guests to unplug from their mobile phones during the duration of their visit. Guests who feel up to the “Connect with Wildlife Challenge” can securely check-in their cellphones at the Zoo’s Guest Services office (located in the entry plaza) before exploring the park.
“Collectively, we have become so reliant on our smart phones that we fail to engage with the world around us,” said Greg Heanue, OKC Zoo chief marketing officer. “It’s our hope that guests who participate in the challenge will be more present and better connect with friends, family and the amazing wildlife that surrounds them. For those that take the challenge and value their wildlife connection, perhaps they’ll be inspired to go screen-less more often.”
Get back (and give back) to nature at the OKC Zoo! Located at the crossroads of U.S. Interstate 44 and U.S. Interstate 35, the Oklahoma City Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Effective Saturday, Feb. 1, regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.