Spring breakers flocked to the Dallas Zoo on Thursday hoping to take in the great weather and perhaps a special sighting.
Visitors pulled out their cell phones to catch a glimpse of the zoo’s newborn gorilla.
Western Lowland Gorilla Megan, 13-years-old, quietly delivered a healthy infant in the early morning hours of March 7, according to the zoo.
Zoo officials hope the baby will breathe new life into an ongoing effort to save critically endangered gorillas in the wild and their habitat.
In order to achieve that, the zoo is asking for your old or unused cell phones and electric devices.
“If you look at gorilla populations over the past 15 years, we’ve seen almost a 25-percent decrease in their population,” said Matt James, Dallas Zoo Senior Director of Animal Care.
James believes one main reason is increased mining for a precious metal that is used to make electronics like cell phones and tablets.
Coltan is in Africa’s Congo Region, which happens to be home to Western Lowland Gorillas.
“[Gorillas] have no where to go as they’re being forced into smaller spaces. There’s more conflict between gorilla groups and more conflict with humans. We are now forcing gorillas out of the wild and into villages,” said James. “We’re losing huge numbers of these animals on a very short basis. As these devices become more popular, I suspect that impact would only become greater and we lose more and more habitat.”
In an effort to help, the Dallas Zoo partnered with an organization called ECO-CELL in order to help recycle old or unused phones and electric devices.
“We can get those precious metals out of those devices and re-use them rather than going back to gorilla habitats and destroying their habitat to mine for more Coltan,” said James.
You can drop off your used devices with a staff member at the Membership Services booth or in a drop box at the Jake. L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Center at the Dallas Zoo while you’re visiting the gorillas, according to the zoo.