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24 September 2018

Visitors running low on mobile phone battery power are now able to exercise, charge and learn how to save wild gorillas all at the same time at a new pedal-powered charging station at Werribee Open Range Zoo.   

The station, installed next to the zoo’s gorilla exhibit in the lead up to World Gorilla Day, features three bikes made out of recycled materials that allow visitors to recharge their phones without electricity.

Gorilla Keeper Kathleen Scanlon said the bikes are designed to raise awareness about the plight of wild gorillas. 

“We installed the bikes at Werribee Open Range Zoo to remind people about the link between their mobile phones and gorillas in the wild,” Ms Scanlon said.

The population of Eastern Lowland (Grauer’s Gorillas) has fallen 77 per cent since 1995,  primarily due to the illegal mining of coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones and other electronic devices.

“Illegal coltan mining is one of the biggest threats to gorillas in the wild,” Ms Scanlon said.

With more than 20 million mobile phones in circulation in Australia, Zoos Victoria’s They’re Calling on You conservation campaign encourages people to recycle pre-loved phones to ensure the coltan used in them gets a second life.

Zoo visitors can donate their old phones by leaving them in the collection bin at Werribee Open Range Zoo’s gift shop.

World Gorilla Day marks 10 years since Zoos Victoria launched its They’re Calling on Youcampaign. Since October 2008, individuals and organisations across Australia have donated more than 164,000 old mobile phones to Zoos Victoria for recycling, raising $271,000 for primate conservation.

The target is to collect a further 2,000 old phones between now and the end of the year, to raise funds to support a 2019 trek into Maiko National Park (DRC) by a Gorilla Doctors team to monitor a population of Eastern Lowland Gorillas and remove poacher snares.

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