Recycling for Primate Conservation

One of the biggest threats to chimpanzees and other great apes is the mining of columbite tantalite or “coltan,” an important mineral utilized by many electronic devices such as cell phones. Coltan is primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Central Africa, where animals like chimpanzees, gorillas and okapis live. The mining of this mineral contributes to habitat loss and disruption which leads to further animal population decline.

What Can I Do?

There are over 260 million cell phones users in the United States alone, but over 1 BILLION cell phones tucked away and collecting dust in drawers. This means that there is a lot of opportunity for us to have a positive and profound impact when it comes to disposing of these electronics! By properly recycling your old cell phone, the materials can be reused instead of mining more minerals from the ground. This will in turn decrease the demand for new materials and keep toxic materials out of our landfills.

The Maryland Zoo has partnered with Eco-Cell an electronics recycling company that is dedicated to offering people a way to become a part of the electronic consumption solution. The Maryland Zoo is now a collection site for discarded cell phones and their chargers. Phones can be dropped off in the Zoo’s Gift Shop at the Main Entrance during normal zoo hours. By choosing to recycle your old phone through the Maryland Zoo your efforts have added value as any proceeds earned will go to supporting chimpanzee conservation efforts at the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP).

If you are a school or club that would be interested in starting your own cell phone collection, email us for resources.

For More Information:


Environmental Protection Agency

Goualouge Triangle Ape Project