May 27, 2009 07:26 PM

At a party at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, Kibabu the silverback gorilla gobbled up delicious veggie cupcakes to celebrate his 32nd birthday. But the fete, attended by members of his hairy family, also launched a campaign urging people to recycle mobile phones.

What do cell phones have to do with gorillas? Well, much of the world’s supply of coltan, a rare mineral ore used to make mobile phones, is mined from the gorilla habitat in Central Africa. The mining of coltan is directly linked to habitat destruction and the decline of at least ten of Africa’s primate species, including Western Lowland Gorillas, the Taronga Zoo says.

The “They’re Calling on You” campaign calls on the public to donate old phones and help save the species by reducing the demand for the mineral. “By simply donating an old mobile phone the pressure placed on gorilla habitat is reduced,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Carmel Tebbutt, who attended the party.

Money raised from refurnished phones will go to the Taronga Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute’s conservation programs, Tebbutt added.

We hope that Kibabu’s 33rd birthday brings many more sugar-free cupcakes and success for the campaign!

See Kibabu and his friends at the campaign launch!

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