Gorillas, pangolins and other endangered animals are getting help from a surprising source: small traders who benefited in this year’s famous GameStop event. Many have donated stock market gains to conservation groups.
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The biggest winners? Gorillas. In normal times, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund may get 20 new adoption pledges (this is a sponsorship deal — the gorillas do not come to live with you) during a weekend. But more than 3,500 adoption pledges came in since last Saturday, many with fictional names making fun of hedge fund managers.
This $350,000 investment in gorillas has delighted conservation organizations. “The support that has come to our organisation, as well as others, is amazing,” said Dr. Tara Stoinski, president, chief executive and chief scientific officer of the Fossey Fund, as reported in The Guardian. “One of the biggest challenges in conservation is just that there’s not enough funding for the challenges we face on the ground.”
The new conservation philanthropists came from the WallStreetBets subreddit, the same people responsible for inflating GameStop’s share price earlier this year. When a large group of small investors bought the stock, it raised the value for them while denying profits to hedge funds who’d planned to gain from GameStop’s failure.
Some investors chose elephants over gorillas. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust runs a rescue center for orphaned elephants in Kenya, among other conservation efforts. Last weekend it received an unexpected $10,000 in donations. “It’s a new supporter base for us, for sure, one that we’re extremely thankful for,” said trust member Amie Alden. “We’ve currently got more than 90 dependent orphaned elephants in our care and it’s an expensive undertaking.”
Other beneficiaries of this new breed of conservationist included the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Florida, the Orangutan Project, lynx, wolves, pangolins and polar bears. Even bulls got some love, as some investors found bovines to adopt as a reference to the bull market. Many conservation programs have suffered due to the pandemic, especially if their work relies on tourism, so the Reddit philanthropists were especially appreciated.
Via The Guardian