March 19, 2021

Reddit’s WallStreetBets community is pouring money into saving gorillas

It’s gorillas. That’s not monkey business. Members of the Reddit group — who gained national…

It’s gorillas.

That’s not monkey business. Members of the Reddit group — who gained national attention for their role in pumping up the January trading frenzy of GameStop (GME), AMC (AMC) and other meme stocks — rallied over the weekend to use their earnings to symbolically “adopt” gorillas through donations to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Why gorillas? It’s a bit of an inside joke: WallStreetBets members refer to themselves and others on the page as “apes,” as part of the group’s internal lingo.

It all started Saturday, when a member of WallStreetBets adopted a baby gorilla named Urungano from the organization on behalf of GameStop. Since then, Dian Fossey has received thousands of new adoptions and more than $333,000 in donations, compared with around 20 adoptions in a typical weekend, according to a spokesperson.
“Used unrealized GME gains to adopt a gorilla,” one WallStreetBets poster said on the site.

“Apes saving apes,” another said.

WallStreetBets investors sent GameStop’s stock soaring more than 1,500% at one point earlier this year, squeezing hedge funds that had shorted the stock and sparking a conversation about whether individual retail investors’ access to Wall Street is equal to that of large institutional investors.

One WallStreetBets poster said on Monday that the surge in donations to help save gorillas pointed to the benefits of making stock trading more accessible to individuals. Some members of the group have in recent days also discussed donating some of their “tendies” (or earnings) from trading GameStop stock to workers in the gaming retailer’s stores.

“Apes on Reddit will use (gains) to donate to good causes, pay medical bills, help the needy in their communities,” the user said. “I can’t wait for wealth to be given back to the little guy and have everyone benefit from it.”

GameStop stock fell quickly following its peak around $350 during the January trading frenzy. But in recent weeks, the stock has begun climbing again and was trading around $200 on Monday, up more than 66% since the start of this month. Many WallStreetBets members say they’re still holding onto the stock, in hopes that the gains will continue.
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The Dian Fossey fund said in a tweet thread that gorillas are, in fact, “a great investment,” adding that funds will go toward tracking, monitoring and studying wild gorillas and their habitat. The fund says it is the “world’s largest and longest running” gorilla conservation organization.

“Gorillas live in the Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world and a natural defense against #climatechange,” the group said. “When we save gorillas, we save the planet. How’s that for #ROI?”

The organization’s CEO, Tara Stoinski, also posted a video to WallStreetBets, thanking the Redditors who were helping to fuel the donations.

“Hi WallStreetBets … I was just made aware that you have been adopting gorillas through our website,” Stoinski said in the video. “I just wanted to say thank you so much for this incredible support.”