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7 November 2011

Werribee Open Range Zoo's spectacular new gorilla exhibit, Gorillas Calling, was officially opened to the public today.

The $3.6 million exhibit is the new home for three Western Lowland Gorillas silverback Motaba and his two sons, Yakini and Ganyeka.

The exhibits name is linked to Zoos Victorias mobile phone recycling campaign, They're Calling on You, which supports the Jane Goodall Institute in conserving Africas primate species simply by donating your unused mobile phones.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Director, Sally Lewis, said the opening of the exhibit marked an important milestone in the zoo's history.

'We know that our visitors are going to be absolutely thrilled when they see the gorillas fantastic new home and we hope they will enjoy getting to know these creatures just as much as we do', Ms Lewis said.

The three gorillas recently moved from Melbourne Zoo and are now settling into their state-of-the-art 6,000 square metre bachelor pad, complete with wading pool, large climbing poles and incredible views across the zoos open range savannahs.

The exhibit boasts several viewing platforms to give visitors plenty of vantage points to watch these magnificent creatures. Other innovative features include over-sized mobile phones with a range of fun and informative messages. A play space mirroring the gorillas climbing areas invites children to climb tree trunks and ropes whilst imagining being gorillas themselves.

'We have designed all of the interpretative elements of this exhibit to highlight the plight of gorillas in the wild, in the hope that our visitors will begin to understand and care about these beautiful creatures and be inspired to take action to save them before it is too late', Ms Lewis said.

They're Calling on You raises awareness of the coltan mining crisis. Coltan is a rare metal, which is used in some mobile phones and is in huge demand by high technology industries. The illegal mining of coltan is causing catastrophic impacts on endangered wildlife species such as the Eastern Lowland and Mountain gorilla.

Grade Four students from the Point Cook School performed the Gorilla Rap which they wrote and choreographed themselves. The students have been participating in a Zoos Victoria "They're Calling On You" Community Conservation program, which has involved educating their school community about the impact that mobile phone use is having on gorillas, collecting phones, as well as raising funds to contribute to gorilla conservation.

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