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Celebrate World Gorilla Day with a conservation action

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

World Gorilla Day asks people from all over the world to celebrate these amazing animals and take action to protect endangered gorillas in the wild and save their ever-shrinking natural habitat.

Yola has captured our hearts, but her wild cousins need even more. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
The largest of the primates, gorillas are often the first great ape that we are introduced to as young children. Their intelligence, gentle nature and magnificent strength make them both awe-inspiring and familiar. They are also the most closely related primate to humans, after bonobos and chimpanzees. 

Every day, we see zoo guests, members, keepers and volunteers alike, standing in awe of playful Akenji, peaceful Pete or curious little Yola.  Their presence is inspiring. It is easy to love them, but on World Gorilla Day we ask you to act on behalf of this critically endangered species.

Yola and Nadiri enjoy the spring blooms. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Gorillas are split into two locations in Africa. Each species, the Western gorilla and Eastern gorilla are separated by the Congo Basin forest. Both species are also divided by a lowland and upland subspecies. All are endangered or critically endangered. 

Western gorilla
  • Western lowland gorilla, wild population around 100,000
    • Yola and family at Woodland Park Zoo are Western lowland gorillas
  • Cross river gorilla, wild population is very low at 250-300
    • These gorillas live in a small pocket of highland forest
Eastern gorilla
  • Mountain gorillas, wild population around 880
    • These gorillas have endured severe threats from war, habitat loss and hunting
  • Eastern lowland gorilla, wild population under 4,000
    • Recently this population has crashed
All gorillas are threatened by habitat loss, wildlife trade, hunting, disease and human conflict. Critically endangered and losing ground every day in the wild, gorillas need our help.

Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.

Take a conservation action for wild gorillas:

Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

Recycle cell phones for gorillas

Come recycle your handheld electronics with us through ECO-CELL to preserve gorilla habitat. By reclaiming the minerals in your electronics and diverting them from landfills, we can reduce demand for mining in gorilla habitat. 

Coltan, source of the element tantalum, provides coating for components of cell phones and other popular electronics. Unfortunately, this material is found in the same habitat as critically endangered gorillas. These gorillas are being killed by rebels who are mining these materials. Because mining brings more people to the area, the gorillas face habitat loss, being killed for wildlife trade and accidentally being caught in snares intended for other bushmeat. The U.N. has reported that in the past five years the eastern lowland gorilla population in the Congo has declined 90%.

How: Bring any old cellphones, MP3 players, or tablets hanging around your house to the zoo and drop them off at our ECO-CELL station at Woodland Park Zoo's West Membership.

Funds generated from recycled electronics will go toward our Mbeli Bai Gorilla Project that works to protect gorilla families like Yola’s in the Republic of Congo. 

Yola doesn't ask for much, make her day by taking a conservation action! Support companies that source minerals through legal and transparent supply chains. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo. 

Buy sustainable wood

By purchasing FSC-certified forest products, you can help protect gorilla habitat by encouraging sustainable forestry and curbing illegal logging. Without the FSC label, your timber might come from illegal or destructive sources in central Africa. Do the right thing and support companies that are FSC certified.

Adopt a ZooParent gorilla

ZooParent adoptions are the perfect gift for budding conservationists. Your ZooParent adoption helps us provide exceptional care for all of Woodland Park Zoo's amazing animals. Plus, your support contributes to our conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world.


The Zoo: Every visit to Woodland Park Zoo helps support conservation efforts like our Wildlife Survival Fund project, the Mbeli Bai Study. The study researches the social organization and behaviors of more than 450 lowland gorillas living in the Republic of Congo, providing the scientific basis for conservation strategies.

Gorillas in the wild: Tourism can help local conservation organizations bolster the support they need to do critical work to save gorillas in the wild. Consider becoming a force for conservation by traveling with organizations that offer responsible conservation tourism packages, such as World Wildlife Fund. Your next adventure could help protect a species.

Pete, 410 lbs. of awesome wants to thank you for advocating for gorillas in the wild. Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.

Spread the love. Tell us, and more importantly your friends and family, why you love gorillas. Consider sharing a conservation action. Did you recycle your cell phone, pledge to buy FSC-certified wood products or donate to a gorilla conservation fund? Give yourself some credit and celebrate by challenging others to take action for these peaceful, beautiful creatures. 


Anonymous said…
We loved your pictures! Thank you for posting.
From second graders at Meadows Elementary.
Thank you Jammie! We love that you read the blog, please tell the students hello from the gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo!