Many of you are probably aware of the Reddit challenge supporting gorilla adoptions on the r/wallstreetbets group that went viral last week. It is an amazing testament to the positive good that can happen through technology and social platforms. Whenever a great ape conservation organization receives this level of attention and fundraising, it increases awareness of all great ape conservation causes.

Many of you have asked why Gorilla Doctors does not offer symbolic gorilla adoptions; I want to take this opportunity to explain our position.

Once upon a time, we did offer symbolic adoptions of the orphan mountain gorillas at the Senkwekwe Center in Virunga National Park. Our sanctuary partners like Senkwekwe, GRACE and Lwiro, are responsible for the day to day care of great apes rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. They care for true orphans now dependent on their human ‘family’ for survival. Symbolic adoptions of these individual animals is an essential fundraising tool and a wonderful way to feel personally connected to the care of an adoptee. While we still provide veterinary support to the orphans at Senkwekwe, out of respect for their efforts, we chose to shift away from adoptions as a way to fundraise.

Our second reason is more philosophical.  The mountain and Grauer’s gorillas whose health we monitor are wild animals. They are individuals living with their gorilla families. In an ideal world, Gorilla Doctors would not need to exist, as these magnificent animals would be free and safe from harm. Unfortunately, life-saving veterinary care for injured and ill mountain and Grauer’s gorillas is still necessary. But essential to our mission is treating the gorillas in the forest, never removing them from their home environment. Each gorilla we save remains in the forest with its family. Keeping animals in their natural habitat is a conservation win to be celebrated.

For these reasons, we feel that symbolic adoption is no longer relevant for Gorilla Doctors. Instead, we decided to redevelop our Gorilla GuardiansTM brand from our previous orphan adoption program to a new sustainer program – supporting the health of all the gorillas in the wild whose health we monitor.

Gorilla GuardiansTM champion gorilla health year-round by giving automatically on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. As little as $5 per month provides dependable funds that help keep us prepared with medical supplies, equipment and transportation for treating ill or injured gorillas.

If 25 people become Gorilla Guardians at $10 per month, together you will cover the cost of a clinical intervention over the course of one year; helping to keep that gorilla healthy in the wild.

Become a Gorilla GuardianTM today and join the collective power of a group dedicated to the legacy of healthy, thriving gorillas in the wild.

Mountain gorilla family on the move! Photo by Skyler Bishop for Gorilla Doctors.