WallStreetBets Users Adopt 3,500 Gorillas, Raise $377,000 for Charity

Thousands of gorillas have been adopted by members of the stock trading Reddit community r/WallStreetBets.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, an ape conservation, protection and scientific research organization, said around 3,500 gorillas had now been adopted and more than $377,000 had been raised since last weekend.

"We continue to be amazed and appreciative," a spokesperson told Newsweek. The charity previously posted on Twitter that it would typically record 20 adoptions in a weekend.

WallStreetBets, which counts more than 9 million Reddit users as members, was at the center of a stock market frenzy in January when users poured money into GameStop and other companies that were being targeted by hedge fund short sellers.

Last weekend, however, the subreddit was flooded with posts about a different threatened species. Users were inspired by a member who adopted a gorilla via the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website, which sends all donors a certificate for their symbolic adoptions.

The WallStreetBets member, who uses the handle "pakistani_in_MURICA," posted his certificate in a thread titled "Adopted a Gorilla." The donor name given was "GameStop." Within hours, the subreddit was full of posts from users adopting the animals and raising money for the charity.

One of the group's slogans is "apes together strong" and users refer to each other as "apes" to suggest they can overcome hedge funds or corporations by working together. The slogan became a meme after it featured in the 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Tara Stoinski, president and CEO of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, said in a statement on Monday that the group had been "surprised, thrilled and appreciative." She also thanked the Reddit community in a video message posted to the site.

"We rely on individual donors who give to us year after year because they know we can be relied upon to be careful stewards of their donations, no matter how large or small. We thank these new donors for their contributions to the success of our mission—because in saving gorillas, we save the planet," Stoinski said in a statement.

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

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has a variety of endangered mountain gorillas that can be adopted via its website, ranging in price from $60 to $150.

In a Twitter thread on March 15, the organisation said the influx of funds would be spent on field programs that track, monitor and study the wild gorillas and their habitat in Africa.

The WallStreetBets user pakistani_in_MURICA previously told Newsweek they had been "humbled" by the response of the unpredictable community.

"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," they said.

Another user who adopted a gorilla, who uses the Reddit handle "Ass-Kickin_Chicken", said it was "amazing" to have raised so much money for the cause.

They told Newsweek in a message: "It shows how acts of goodwill, even when done as an individual, can influence other people to follow suit and do the same. I, along with many other wallstreetbetters, are happy that we did something good in this world."

mountain Gorilla
A mountain gorilla, pictured in 2006 in the Virunga National Park outside Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The primate is classified as endangered. Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images