News Release

April 23, 2012

Contact: Sondra Katzen
Public Relations


Brookfield Zoo’s Ape Awareness Weekend Brings Attention to Declining Wild Ape Populations

Brookfield, Ill.—This weekend, April 28 and 29, swing over to Brookfield Zoo for Ape Awareness Weekend and discover ways to help the wild ape populations of Asia and Africa. The event, which takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day, will highlight the zoo’s three ape species: white-cheeked gibbons, orangutans, and western lowland gorillas.

Throughout the weekend, guests can participate in ape-related activities that will take place in the Tropic World exhibit. While there, zoogoers can compare their own weight and handprints with those of an orangutan’s and gorilla’s, see how much wider an orangutan’s arm span is compared to a human’s, try on a gorilla-size T-shirt and an orangutan-size mitten, learn what the apes’ diets are at Brookfield Zoo, and even build a nest like gorillas’ nests.

Families can learn about the zoo’s apes during informal Zoo Chats presented by the keepers. In the exhibit’s Asia section, a chat about the gibbons will take place at noon, and another at 1:00 p.m. will be about the orangutans. Those who want to find out the difference between monkeys and apes can attend a talk in the South America section at 2:00 p.m. The final chat about gorillas takes place in Tropic World: Africa at 2:30 p.m.

During the event, guests can also learn how recycling unwanted cell phones and accessories, pagers, handheld games, e-readers, and laptops can save gorillas in their native habitat of West Africa.

The industry that produces these particular electronics is threatening gorillas’ and other forest species’ habitats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a significant amount of the world’s supply of coltan is mined. Cell phones and other such devices require this metallic ore. The greater the demand for these products, the greater the demand there is for coltan, which sadly results in the destruction of the forests and their inhabitants.

Brookfield Zoo has a year-round cell phone recycling program that allows guests to recycle their old cell phones and other handheld electronics at one of two designated bins located at the zoo’s North and South Gates. During Ape Awareness Weekend, additional bins will be located in each of the three

sections of Tropic World. For each device collected, Eco-Cell, a premiere cell phone recycling organization, will pay up to $15. All funds raised through this program benefit the Chicago Zoological Society’s Conservation Fund, which supports conservation efforts at Brookfield Zoo and around the world to help species, including primates.

Additionally, guests can learn how to become educated consumers when purchasing products that contain palm oil. Palm oil is in demand as an ingredient in baked goods, candies, and other consumer goods and is found in one out of 10 supermarket products. Many manufacturers favor palm oil because it has no trans fat, which appeals to increasingly health-conscious consumers, even though it still contains saturated fats. Orangutans’ natural habitat—the rain-forest islands of Sumatra and Borneo—is being logged and converted to palm oil plantations. Due in large part to the deforestation, experts predict that orangutans may become extinct in the wild unless dramatic action is taken to help preserve their habitat. Several companies that are members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are committed to using certified sustainable palm oil and doing their best to make a difference for orangutans. In addition to Breyer’s, whose ice cream is sold in Brookfield Zoo’s Scoops restaurant, a list of RSPO company members and some of their products may be found on the zoo’s Web site at

Ape Awareness Weekend activities are free with general zoo admission of $15.00 for adults and $10.50 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10. For further information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.


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