Banana-Fundraising and the Wilhelma Zoo

Stefanie Reska and the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart Germany are on a mission to raise money for Virunga National Park. I met Stefanie last December after she began to fund-raise for the park and was very impressed with the zoo and the way they support wildlife programs around the world. The fundraising methods are creative and surprisingly effective. They recently donated $6000 from a few fundraisers. Perhaps their example will be an inspiration to some of you.

Banana Fundraising

The zoo ordered 700 organic bananas, put them all in a heap in the middle of the zoo with a colleague in a monkey costume next to it, walking and behaving like a monkey. The kids loved it and their parents gave a coin for the monkey in exchange for a banana. The children walked away happy, and ate some healthy fruit as well. In four hours, they raised 350 € ($444) in cash after expenses.

Mobile Phone Recycling

Anne, Janne, and Nelle started a school project to collect old mobile phones to support gorilla protection.

The mobile phone recycling program has generated 15,000 €  ($19,000) in three years – all going to support gorilla protection in the wild. It’s simple. People contribute their old mobile phones which the zoo exchanges for money from phone recycling companies. The great part about this program is that any business or school can collect the phones by simply setting up a box at an entrance, or school children can turn it into a class project. Large companies, such as BOSCH in Germany, have collected phones for this project, as well as small businesses such as Reiseland Travel agency in Stuttgart (below).


Wilhelma Zoo has organized several lotteries to raise money for the park. These work best if the weather is good which always attracts the most visitors. In October, they got lucky with a gorgeous sunny day that attracted about 8000 visitors, and sold 2700 lottery tickets for 1 € each. The prizes range from little stuffed animals to Virunga postcards.

Educational Talks

The Congohounds team give a presentation at the Wilhelma Zoo in October.

The zoo also collects money by giving free educational talks on the weekends, asking people for a small donation into a Gorilla Box. In October, our own Congohounds leaders, Marlene Zähner, Christian, and Gracien, gave a presentation at the zoo.

The Congohounds team with the Wilhelma team. Stefanie is on the right.

We would like to thank Stefanie and the Wilhelma zoo for their continued support of Virunga National Park. If any of you have connections with a zoo near you, why not speak to the management about doing similar fundraising for Virunga? Or start your own mobile phone collection project. There are many creative ways to raise money for the park.


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