The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is joining gorilla fans around the globe in celebration of World Gorilla Day on Sunday, September 24. Presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru, World Gorilla Day provides OKC Zoo guests an opportunity to learn how they can help critically endangered gorilla populations and take conservation action to save this magnificent species.
World Gorilla Day will be an ape-tastic day with activities being held at the Zoo’s Great EscApe (gorilla building) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of gorillas and participate in family-friendly activities, including testing your knowledge about the Zoo’s gorilla troops and other primates, animal enrichment, photo opportunities, caretaker chats, Facebook Live videos @okczoo and much more. As part of the World Gorilla Day festivities, the Zoo’s gorilla care team is excited to celebrate our silverback gorilla, Togo’s 35th birthday. Guests in attendance can watch as Togo receives some of his favorite enrichment treats prepared for him by his caretakers. All event festivities are included with regular Zoo admission.
Now through Saturday, September 30, guests can contribute to gorilla and wildlife conservation by donating old or used cellphones to the Gorillas on the Line Cellphone Challenge to receive a free general OKC Zoo admission ticket! Small electronics frequently contain coltan and mining for this substance threatens the habitats of gorillas and other endangered species. When individuals donate used phones or other electronics, the coltan from those devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound, protecting gorilla habitats. These items can be dropped off for recycling in the Zoo’s guest services office in the Entry Plaza.
Marking its seventh year, World Gorilla Day is an annual event created by The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) that has inspired a global effort to bring people together and to achieve a common goal–to take action for gorillas. DFGF is one of the OKC Zoo’s legacy conservation partners and funds provided by the Zoo are used to support operations of the Karisoke Research Center located in Rwanda, DFGF’s base for field research. Since its inception, DFGF has grown its impact through scientific research and education, as well as by providing daily protection for mountain gorillas and aiding local communities by supplying jobs and other resources to Rwandans. Only found in the dense forests of central Africa, both species of gorillas, mountain and lowland, are critically endangered and threatened by illegal poaching, civil unrest, disease and habitat destruction due to extractive industries such as mining. Conservation organizations around the world are collaborating to bring awareness to the plight of wild gorillas.
- Gorillas are primarily herbivores, eating leaves, shoots, stems, fruits and other plant materials. An adult male gorilla may consume up to 50 pounds of vegetation per day.
- Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-gray coats and auburn crests.
- Gorillas can climb trees but are usually found on the ground in communities, or troops, of up to 30 individuals. A troop can include one dominant silverback, younger males, females and offspring. There are also bachelor troops with multiple young males.
- The OKC Zoo is home to 10 Western lowland gorillas. The youngest, Finyezi, is the 27th gorilla born at the Zoo since 1974.
- Mountain gorillas roam the steep mountain forests of four national parks across Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo at elevations of 8,000-13,000 feet – about the same altitude from which a skydiver jumps out of a plane.
- The OKC Zoo helps save gorillas by supporting The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, an organization that studies and protects gorillas in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The OKC Zoo only supports science-based conservation. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund team has published over 300 studies on gorillas.
- Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Their exact numbers are not known because they inhabit some of the densest and most remote forests in Africa.
- Coltan is a substance frequently used in small electronics. Mining for coltan threatens gorillas and their habitats. You can help by dropping off old and unwanted smartphones, cell phones, MP3 players, handheld gaming systems and tablets at the Zoo’s Guest Services office for recycling.
- Thanks to intense conservation efforts, mountain gorillas are the only great ape population that is currently increasing! Their population has increased from 620 individuals in 1989 to over 1,000 individuals today.
The OKC Zoo recently partnered with Oklahoma’s Own News 9 to launch of a new digital toolkit that provides STEM focused curriculum for educators and parents to access online at no cost. These online lesson plans available at www.news9.com/teachertools are ideal for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and centered around gorilla and monarch conservation. Each grade specific lesson plan features engaging resources to assist educators and parents with communicating about wildlife conservation in a concise and memorable way.
Go the distance for gorillas this World Gorilla Day! The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4 p.m. Purchase advance Zoo admission tickets at okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $16 for adults and $13 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, X, Instagram, Linktree, Threads and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Looking for a year of Zoo adventures? Consider a 12-month, ZOOfriends Membership Passport to the OKC Zoo providing general admission year-round and exclusive offers while supporting the Zoo’s ongoing animal care and conservation programs. Memberships can be purchased at okczoo.org/membership.