Detroit Zoological Society Recognized by Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call

January 7, 2022

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call is a global recycling campaign committed to saving wild gorilla populations. In 2021, thousands of people participated by recycling smartphones, tablets and other small electronics.

Contributing more than 900 devices collected from the public, the Detroit Zoological Society is being recognized for recycling more electronics than any other participating organization in the United States.

Smartphones and other devices (such as mp3 players, phone chargers and tablets) contain coltan, a mineral compound used to power small electronics. Coltan is mined all over the world, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where gorillas live. Mining for coltan and other minerals in this area can contribute to gorilla habitat destruction as well as to military and economic conflict. When electronics are recycled, the demand for these minerals is reduced and money is raised for gorilla conservation.

Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call was created by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan education advisory team to raise awareness about cellphone recycling and its benefits to gorilla conservation. Public engagement around conservation is a central goal of the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program.

Eco-Cell, an electronics recycling company based in Louisville, Kentucky, partnered with AZA’s Gorilla SAFE program to handle the collection and tabulate the totals.

The top partnering institutions in 2021 were:

  1. Toronto Zoo – 2,302
  2. Calgary Zoo – 961
  3. Detroit Zoo – 900

During the recent campaign, more than $2,400 was raised for gorilla conservation. This money directly supports global gorilla conservation organizations such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society to assist with implementing a wide range of approaches to conserving these endangered animals.

“This partnership is so meaningful and something the Detroit Zoological Society looks forward to every year. Thank you to everyone who answered this important call to recycle electronics in a responsible way and helped save gorillas from extinction. This is a great example of conservation that individual people can actively take part in,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the DZS.

The Detroit Zoo is home to three gorillas – half-brothers Chipua, Pendeka and Kongo-Mbeli – who can be seen at the Great Apes of Harambee. This 4-acre habitat is located in the Zoo’s African Forest.