World Rainforest Day is an important day that gives a platform to the conversation of saving our planet’s rainforests. Rainforests are vital for the earth’s survival, providing us with fresh water, and absorbing carbon dioxide which in turn, stabilizes the climate. Plus, with more than half of the world’s plant and animal populations residing in rainforests, including the animals found on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail, we must protect this land.   

Over the last 40 years, deforestation of the rainforest has eliminated an area of tropical forest equal to the size of Europe. One of the biggest drivers of rainforest destruction is the mining of materials made to use various electronics such as cellphones, cameras, printers, video game consoles, computers, and more. Tantalum is a mineral extracted from “coltan,” a metallic ore. This mineral is used to hold high electrical charges and ideal for making capacitors and batteries. The cellphone boom in the last decade and a half has encouraged upwards of 10,000 illegal miners to enter protected tropical forests in search of the ore.

You can help curve the demand for tantalum by properly recycling your old electronics and cellphones. At the Minnesota Zoo, we have a dropbox outside our main entrance for guests and visitors to deposit their old cellphones and handheld electronics to be properly recycled.

You can also learn more about how the Minnesota Zoo is involved in the protection of rainforests through the Recycle for Rainforests program by visiting the recycling station on the Tropics Trail, or by visiting our Recycle for Rainforests webpage.

Plan your next visit to the Minnesota Zoo today, and don’t forget your old handheld electronics to recycle at one of our drop-off stations!