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Twycross Zoo launches a permanent recycling scheme for mobile phones to protect apes in the wild

Bonobo From Monday 5 June visitors to Twycross Zoo will be able to dispose of their old and unused mobile phones in an environmentally friendly way. The recycling scheme, launching on World Environment Day, will complement the zoo’s efforts to conserve great apes, particularly bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As a popular attraction with over 500,000 visitors a year, Twycross Zoo aims to raise awareness of the damaging effects on the environment caused by the manufacture of consumer electronics. Mobile phones contain precious materials such as coltan, which is often mined in conditions of human rights abuses and in areas of armed conflict. As the world’s demand for the mineral increases, there is little regard for the detrimental impact extensive mining has on the environment and wildlife.

It is estimated that between 65-80% of the world’s coltan reserves are found in biodiversity rich areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also home to bonobos, our closest living relatives. According to experts, the number of bonobos in the wild has been in decline for the past 30 years and continues to do so. Twycross Zoo is not only the only UK zoo to have this endangered species, but also a long-term supporter of Lola Ya Bonobo, a unique sanctuary for orphaned or injured bonobos in DRC.

Coltan and other parts of consumer electronics are easily recyclable which reduces the pressure on natural resources and wildlife, including bonobos, gorillas and chimpanzees. For this reason, Twycross Zoo has partnered with Clover Environmental Solutions, which provides collection programmes for used mobile phones and other small electronic devices, to set up a permanent recycling container at the zoo.

Louise Biffin, Director of Finance at Twycross Zoo says, “We want to emphasise the message that mobile phones are an issue for ape conservation and are excited to launch our own recycling scheme here at Twycross Zoo. It is estimated that there are about 80 million unused mobile phones in the UK alone and we are pleased that from now on we can help our visitors dispose of their old phones responsibly.”

Dr Zanna Clay, research expert and conservationist for bonobos says, “Unsustainable and unregulated mining of coltan poses a direct threat on the surrounding forest ecosystems in Congo, an area rich in biodiversity and home to thousands of endemic species, which includes bonobos and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives. Without effective regulation in place, coltan mines have become a hotbed of human rights violation, including large-scale levels of child slavery and horrendous working conditions. By recycling your mobile phone, you are helping to support the fight against these human rights violation, as well as reducing the high-demand for a mineral which is degrading the natural richness of Congo as we speak.”

Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10am to 6pm. For more information call 0844 474 1777, or visit www.twycrosszoo.org.