[Mar. 15, 2021: Jason Murdock]
Donations to a gorilla conservation fund surged over the weekend after a meme spread through the subreddit r/WallStreetBets that resulted in its members symbolically adopting animals en masse.
The community, which has more than nine million members as of Monday, is typically dedicated to financial trading, and was at the center of a stock market frenzy in January that poured money into GameStop and other companies in an attempt to disrupt hedge funds and short sellers.
Since Saturday, users have been putting their money into another cause: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. It has received over $265,000 from members since Saturday.
The charity's website says it is dedicated to the "protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa" and lets people symbolically adopt animals to raise funds. In return, donors are sent an adoption certificate that shows their name—a gift that became central to the meme.
On Saturday, a r/WallStreetBets user kicked off the trend after sharing an image of an adopted gorilla made under the donor name "GameStop." It has since attracted more than 2,000 comments in the community.
Others soon followed, with the common link being the Dian Fossey fund. Another user adopted the same mountain gorilla under the name "GME," which is GameStop's stock market ticker. It snowballed from there.
Threads now include: "I like this trend. Come on my fellow apes, let's buy them a rainforest," "Inspired by the rest of the subreddit, I adopted a Gorilla," "I see we're adopting gorillas now. Well I'm down," and "Giving credit where credit is due... Ape is taken care of because of you."
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