Students at Walnut Cove Elementary School have stepped up to help four primates after learning of the terrible conditions some primates are faced with through a book they read in class.
AIG Teacher Alison Zdan said her fourth grade students recently read “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate as part of their preparation for the Battle of the Books competition.
“This book is based on a true story of how a gorilla named Ivan spent 27 years of his life in a cage in the circus themed mall located in Washington State before being rescued and sent to Zoo Atlanta,” said Zdan. “He lived out his remaining years with other primates in a realistic simulated setting of his natural habitat.”
The story got the students interested in what happened to other primates throughout the world.
“We sat around and discussed it and the atrocities and looked up what was going on,” explained Zdan. “Wild gorillas are on the brink of extinction. Habitat loss and poaching threaten these magnificent primates. The students looked into various agencies that rescued and housed primates, to bring them back to health, and hopefully to reintroduce them to their native habitat. The students found an organization named Ape Action Africa. This organization nurses back to health the orphan primates that were rescued after their parents had been shot to death for bush meat in Africa. They also give them a safe forest sanctuary home where they can live with their own kind.”
Zdan said the students initially raised enough money, $50, to adopt one gorilla named Chris, but said the students wanted to still do more.
“The AIG students put together a presentation to show to the other students in the school asking for donations for their cause of ‘Saving an Ape.‘“said Zdan. “The whole school came through to help the cause. We ended up raising enough money to adopt the other three gorillas, Chickaboo, Nona and Shufai.”
Zdan said it only took two days for the school to raise an additional $150 to adopt the three other gorillas.
“They got the whole school rallied up,” she said. “The kids all brought in their change. The whole school pulled together to gather this money in two days because they believed in the cause.”
Zdan said the fifth-grade class read the books aloud as a group and the librarian helped by reading a picture version of the book for younger students.
She added that the school would received pictures and biographies of each primate they helped as well as an annual update and a subscription to an e-newsletter.
“This book made me feel sad,” student Kaitlin Jones said. “I don’t understand why people put animals in cages for greediness of money. Doing this project made me feel I was doing something for them. I was helping them.”
Student Trenton Bullins says that reading the story made him feel mad.
“Why would they like doing this?” he asked. “Every picture I saw shows them smiling and acting like the gorilla is a trophy. They don’t care about the gorillas.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.