Prague Zoo launches new fund-raising project to protect gorillas in the wild


Prague Zoo recently launched a new project to raise money for the protection of gorillas in Africa. It is raising money by collecting old mobile phones from visitors and selling them to a recycling company. The profit will be used for a UNESCO-listed gorilla-breeding reserve in the western African state of Cameroon.

Gorillas are very popular with visitors to Prague Zoo and the new fund-raising project is not the first to help gorillas in the wild. In 2005 Prague Zoo launched an alternative reality show called Odhalení, or the Unmasking, featuring gorillas instead of humans and using the profit from the SMSes sent by viewers for projects to protect gorillas in the wild. Jana Ptačinská Jirátová, the spokeswoman for Prague Zoo, explains what the money will be used for this time:

“We would like to support the eco-guards of the Dja reserve, a bio-spherical reserve in Cameroon which is the home of western lowland gorillas. The eco-guards are protecting the reservation from poachers and we would like to provide them with basic stuff, because these people often lack boots, tents, satellite system to call help if they need it, so we want to provide them with technical stuff.”

The zoo’s fund-raising programme also has another aim – to restrict the mining of coltan, a metallic ore used in the production of electronic devices, especially mobile phones. The worlds’ biggest deposits of coltan are located in central Africa and mining presents another threat to the diminishing gorilla population. Jana Ptačinská Jirátová says Prague Zoo guarantees that none of the mobile phones will be re-sold.

“We were looking for an organisation that would recycle most of the mobile phones, or a hundred percent of them. We found a Czech organisation called Rema system, which recycles mobile phones in the Czech Republic. For each phone that we get from people we get ten crowns, which is about a third of a Euro, from Rema System. This money is sent to a special charity account and from the account we pay the conservational activities in Africa.”

Jana Ptačinská Jirátová
The project of collecting used mobile phones was launched in April and has already sparked a wave of interest among Czechs, who are among the world’s biggest users of mobile phones. But, as Jana Ptačinská Jirátová says, the project gained such popularity mainly thanks to the recent birth of a new baby gorilla at Prague Zoo.

“The birth of a new gorilla has definitely increased interest in our gorilla pavilion and thanks to that it also helped to raise interest in the mobile phone project and in helping gorillas in the wild.”