‘Calling’ for a helping hand on World Gorilla Day

23 September 2019

Melbourne Zoo’s family of Gorillas has excitedly tucked into some attention-grabbing treats today in the lead up to World Gorilla Day tomorrow (Tuesday 24th September).

The Zoo’s gorilla troop tore into several packages depicting a variety of mobile phones, each including a variety of tasty goodies inside.

It was a joyous occasion for the family of four, but none were more thrilled than the playful four-year-old Kanzi, who excitedly jumped from a high vantage point to flatten one of her delicious packages before exploring its contents.

But what is the significance of the mobile phones, one might ask?

It’s all part of shining a light on Zoos Victoria’s ‘They’re Calling on You’ initiative, which encourages the public to recycle their old, unwanted mobile phones to support Gorilla conservation.

It’s all part of shining a light on Zoos Victoria’s ‘They’re Calling on You’ initiative, which encourages the public to recycle their old, unwanted mobile phones to support Gorilla conservation.

Melbourne Zoo Primates Life Sciences Manager, Harna Burton, said many people were unaware that mobile phones contained a metallic mineral called coltan, which is commonly sourced and mined in the natural habitat of the Western lowland gorilla in Africa.

“The homes of wild gorillas are being decimated to source the mineral, which is contributing to the rapidly decreasing population of this precious species,” Ms Burton said.

“But we’re calling on the public to help us make a positive difference. By recycling phones, we’re aiming to both reduce the demand on coltan, and also raise funds to support Gorilla Doctors, who provide life-saving medical care to fragile wild gorilla populations in Africa.”

Ms Burton said, along with raising awareness, the fun-filled packages provide a great form of enrichment to help keep the highly social species mentally and physically stimulated.

“Gorillas are highly intelligent animals so it’s important that we provide various types of enrichment keep them active and engaged,” Ms Burton said.

Western lowland gorillas are one of four gorilla sub-species, and are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Close to 173,000 mobile phones have been donated by the public for the They’re Calling on You initiative to date, which has raised $286,000 for gorilla conservation. You find out more about how to donate your old phones, here.

You can visit the zoo’s family of gorillas up close at Melbourne Zoo for World Gorilla Day tomorrow, or any other day from 9am-5pm, 7 days a week.