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Zoo says gorilla decline tied to cell phone mineral


An event called Zooper Saturday at the Buffalo Zoo on Saturday will bring awareness to the link between cell phones and the plunging gorilla population. A mineral called coltan is found in cell phones and mined in the rainforests where the primates reside. As a result, their habitats are being destroyed.

Recycling cell phones can decrease the demand for coltan, so anyone who donates an old cell phone to the zoo will receive a $1 admission discount per phone.

Zoo Public Relations coordinator Rachel Gottlieb says the impact miners have on animal habitats has been an ongoing concern.

"In the past five or six years, about 90% of the gorilla population in that region have declined, so gorillas are critically endangered," Gottlieb said.

"It's important to realize the impact that we have on the natural environment."

Gottlieb says the zoo always accepts donated cell phones and has a partnership with Eco-Cell, an electronic recycling company. Zoo volunteers who traveled to Congo will share their experiences and there will be awareness activities for visitors.