By Cían McCarthy
In January 2021, the subreddit r/WallStreetBets gained tremendous popularity as it coordinated a short squeeze of GameStop stock (GME). Those with large stakes against GME (such as major hedge funds) were furious when they began losing money, but younger stockholders managed to make double or triple their investment. For the most part, r/WallStreetBets and those who partook in the GME short squeeze were regarded as money-grabbing amateurs who got lucky with their profits, neither good nor bad.
But recently, despite previous views of being selfish degenerates, Reddit users on r/WallStreetBets have begun adopting gorillas through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. In fact, in the six days after the initial adoption gained attention on the platform, more than 3,500 gorillas were adopted. While this appears like a generic social-media-driven philanthropic fundraiser, it has a much deeper meaning to the Reddit community.
Reddit is a website with a vast array of niche communities for every interest, hobby, and occupation. Certain subreddits (as the communities are called, and are denoted by an “r/”) are larger than others, with popular ones like r/AskReddit (a question and answer forum) and r/gaming (a video-game centered subreddit) having around 30 million active users, while others may have as little as 5 members, or even just the owner themself. In this sense, Reddit culture is very much varied. Many jokes and memes are spread around the subreddits, however, and indeed most users are subscribed to multiple subreddits, which makes Reddit culture varied, yet unified—similar to the cultures of towns and cities within a country with its own culture. Subreddits like r/Memes, r/Ape, and r/AskOuija have all shown great sympathy and solidarity with the plight of captive animals, especially apes. Indeed, it has become a sort of philanthropic humor to call out animal cruelty through memes.
That’s what makes this new ape adoption phenomenon so popular.
With the creation of one meme (which can take five minutes on photoshop), the plight of apes—and the trend of adopting them—can be seen by millions of people, and upvoted by hundreds of thousands, all following the #ApesTogetherStrong trend.
The adoptions have seriously helped the gorillas. As president of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Dr. Tara Stoinski, said, “They’ve truly made a difference for our world and shown what can be accomplished when people come together”. Their adoptions, as well as $350,000 in donations, will ensure the proper measures can be taken to give the gorillas protection to live their lives peacefully and bolster population numbers so we can continue to live in a world with our Gorilla cousins.
To learn more about this topic, please visit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website, or view the thank you video that Dr. Stoinski shared with the Reddit community:
Dr. Tara Stoinski:
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: