Ape Charities Thank WallStreetBets Users for Raising Over $333,000 in Days

Ape charities have thanked the subreddit r/WallStreetBets after its members raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative highlighted the work of the community this week after a wave of the Redditors symbolically adopted gorillas and posted images of their donation certificates to the messageboard.

A representative for The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund told Newsweek that r/WallStreetBets members had raised at least $333,000 as of Tuesday.

The trend started on Saturday last weekend after a user shared an image of an adopted gorilla made under the donor name "GameStop," a reference to the stock trading frenzy in January that saw r/WallStreetBets users disrupt hedge fund short sellers.

Within hours, r/WallStreetBets, which has over nine million members, was full of posts from others who were adopting animals—and raising money for charities.

"It's safe to say that the investor community on @reddit is not traditionally who we think of as our supporter base. But they definitely surprised and overwhelmed us over the weekend," The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's Twitter account said Monday, adding that the conservation effort had received more than 2,000 new donations in three days.

On Saturday, a friend alerted us that a member of @Official_WSB subreddit had posted a symbolic adoption of our infant gorilla #Urungano , a reference to the #WSB motto: #apestogetherstrong . It caught on. pic.twitter.com/cjL6NrZj2L

— Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (@SavingGorillas) March 15, 2021

It added: "You can *bet* those funds will go straight into our field programs, where 365 days a year we're tracking, monitoring and studying wild gorillas and their habitat."

In a separate statement on Twitter, Jared Taglialatela, the director of the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative in Des Moines, Iowa, said his own group, which is dedicated to the Bonobo species, also saw "amazing support" from r/WallStreetBets.

A message of thanks to @Official_WSB from Ape Initiative president and director - @jaredtag! 🦍🚀#WallStreetBets #ApesTogetherStrong pic.twitter.com/zwDNXZP3Ha

— Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (@ApeInitiative) March 15, 2021

One community member who adopted a mountain gorilla under the name "F*ck Melvin Capitol"—a reference to one previously-targeted hedge fund—told Newsweek the trend started after user pakistani_in_MURICA posted their gorilla adoption certificate.

The member, who uses the handle Ass-Kickin_Chicken, said they had been inspired by that act of good will, and the community's slogan of "Apes Together Strong."

In a Reddit message, they wrote: "The fact that the donation increased to $333,000 not long ago is amazing. It shows how acts of good will, even when done as an individual, can influence other people to follow suit and do the same. Overall I, along with many other wallstreetbetters, are happy that we did something good in this world.

"As for what the future beholds, well, that's hard to say. To be honest this sub is pretty unpredictable, and no one saw the first donation coming.

"But what I can say is that there may still be donations flowing into the Fund as a chain reaction to what we have done. Maybe we'll find another charitable cause that we can donate to using our gains from $GME [GameStop], anything is possible."

Dr. Tara Stoinski, the director of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, said in a statement on Monday the group was "surprised, thrilled and appreciative" by the donations.

She added: "We thank these new donors for their contributions to the success of our mission—because in saving gorillas, we save the planet."

The person behind the profile credited for starting the weekend gorilla adoption spree, pakistani_in_MURICA, told Newsweek that members of the community regularly donate to "phenomenal organizations," including children's hospitals and food banks.

"This isn't a one-off event; users will continue to donate to charities and organizations from not only their gains but salaries," they said.

When asked for a response to the $333,000 raised, the user said they felt "humbled" to see the wave of support, before adding: "Shocked, but not really."

They wrote: "I don't think people knew they could symbolically adopt a gorilla or any wild animal. But users came aboard and posted about adopting numerous endangered animals Apes, chimpanzees, elephants, falcons, gorillas, hedgehog, humpback whales, manatees, orangutans, rhinos, tigers, wolves just to name a few.

"The money donated wasn't from r/Wallstreetbets users cashing out their GameStop or AMC profits. I'm still all in on GME & AMC as are many others who have independently done their due diligence and research into stocks they invest in."

One r/WallStreetBets moderator reached by Newsweek said the adoption efforts were "pretty cool," adding in a message: "I don't think you'll see any hedge funds do any charity towards something that doesn't benefit them directly. It all starts with a random member doing something and if others think it is a good idea they'll follow suit."

juvenile gorilla
A juvenile gorilla leans on the shoulder of an adult male that will one day become a Silver back (R) in a clearing on the slopes of Mount Mikeno in the Virunga National Park on November 28, 2008. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images