On January 22, almost 700 people donned gorilla costumes to join in the first annual Austin Gorilla Run, a charity run benefiting the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund. Participants ran through downtown Austin on a scenic route near the river.
Awards for the race included First to Finish, “Senior Gorilla,” “Furthest Traveled Gorilla,” and other creative categories. The oldest runner was 76, and one participant traveled over 3,000 miles to do the run. There was also a special award for a contestant who finished the five kilometer race in a wheel chair. The highest individual fundraiser generated $868 and one couple made $1,500 for the gorilla charity.
The money raised by the Austin Gorilla Run goes to an animal clinic in Africa that focuses on caring for wild gorillas injured by human activities or that have respiratory illnesses. Their population is dwindling due to traps and snares set by humans for other animals and disease.
The gorilla clinic idea came from Dr. Dian Fossey, because she witnessed how many gorilla injuries were happening. Tragically, she was not alive to see it built and providing care for the gorillas she cared for so much. The clinic not only provides care, it conducts research into gorilla diseases in order to both treat and attempt to prevent them.
Image Credit: Austin Gorilla Run