In this month’s 405 Magazine, the travel article “Uganda's Vibrant Life” contains an effort to promote tourism to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to many of the world’s remaining beloved mountain gorillas.
While a trip to Uganda may (and should) sit high on your bucket list, getting there isn’t exactly easy. Now though, thanks to the Oklahoma City Zoo, you can experience a taste of Uganda while helping give back to the mountain gorillas – by stopping into the zoo’s gift shop and picking up a bag of Gorilla Conservation Coffee.
The non-profit Gorilla Conservation Coffee was the brainchild of famed Uganda gorilla veterinarian Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, founder of Conservation Through Public Health. In working with declining mountain gorilla populations, Dr. Zikusoka realized that since gorillas share 98.4 percent of the same DNA as humans, they were susceptible to many of the same illnesses. She thought that in enlightening local communities about healthcare issues, wellness and family planning, it would incentivize locals to save money, be healthier and focus more on business development, including tourism – all of which have led to a healthier gorilla population.
Uganda’s equatorial climate makes the area around Bwindi a prime coffee growing area, so to raise more money for Conservation Through Public Health, Dr. Zikusoka began to work with local farmers to grow premium coffee crops. These beans are then exported across the globe as Gorilla Conservation Coffee. Not only is the brew some of the best you’ll ever have, but it generates awareness for gorilla conservation, in addition to creating income for local farmers – many of whom are reformed poachers.
The money earned in selling the coffee is then put back into Conservation Through Public Health, allowing it to continue to thrive, as well. So head over to the OKC Zoo and visit the Great EscApe exhibition – and if you feel moved to help these fascinating animals survive in the wild, stop into the gift shop on your way out.
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