9 Best Charities for Protecting Apes (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Protecting Apes (Complete 2022 List)

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Carla Shaik

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Chimps share 98.8% of their DNA with humans, yet they are regularly abused, killed, and traded as pets and entertainers. All great ape species are now endangered with less than 688,000 gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans left in the wild. All 20 gibbon species (the lesser apes) are also dangerously close to extinction. Conservation charities are now fighting to stop these iconic species from disappearing from our planet altogether. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for protecting apes?

The best charities for protecting apes in terms of overall impact are the Jane Goodall Institute and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Charities such as Save the Chimps and the Center for Great Apes do incredible work providing sanctuary to vulnerable apes.

Whether you want to help bring an end to poaching, ensure abused apes are treated with care and respect, or protect vital ape habitats from further destruction, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for protecting apes are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Protecting Apes Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over the world, from North America to Africa, intercepting poaching efforts and protecting the last remaining ape populations.

Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on rescuing apes from harmful industries, such as the pet trade, and providing sanctuary for them. Others focus their attention on monitoring and protecting vital habitats. Yet they all share the same goal – to ensure the survival of our closest relatives.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Protecting Apes

Below are our favorite charities for protecting apes:

  • Jane Goodall Institute
  • Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
  • Pan African Sanctuary Alliance
  • Borneo Orangutan Survival
  • Gorilla Doctors
  • Ape Action Africa
  • Save the Chimps
  • Gibbon Conservation Center
  • Center for Great Apes

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Jane Goodall Institute: Protecting Chimps and their Habitats

The Jane Goodall Institute was founded in 1977 by Dr. Jane Goodall after she learned that the survival of chimpanzees was threatened by habitat destruction and illegal trafficking. Today, the charity is building on Jane’s legacy by promoting the protection of great apes and inspiring change. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Jane Goodall Institute spent 78% of their income on conservation programs, 13% on management, and 9% on fundraising.

“Protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share.”

Jane Goodall Institute

What they do: The Jane Goodall Institute utilizes scientific technologies and research techniques to monitor wild chimpanzee habitats. They also rescue wild chimpanzees from crime syndicates and place them in sanctuaries until it is safe for them to be released back into the wild. In addition, the charity runs environmental education projects for communities living in and around chimpanzee habitats and encourages school children around the world to address local conservation issues through their Roots & Shoots program.

What they’ve achieved: To date, the Jane Goodall Institute has rescued and cared for 290 chimpanzees and protected 3.4 million acres of wild habitat. They have also engaged local African communities in 130 conservation education programs and trained 179 local people in the use of forest monitoring techniques. Their Roots & Shoots program has reached over 5,800 schools in 50 countries around the world. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Jane Goodall Institute through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a Chimp Guardian or by purchasing items from their online shop.

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: Helping People. Saving Gorillas

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was founded in 1967 by legendary zoologist Dian Fossey, as a research center to study the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Since her tragic death in 1985, her legacy has grown into an internationally renowned organization dedicated to protecting gorillas and their habitats. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Dedicated to the conservation, protection, and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa.”

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

What they do: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund tracks, monitors, and studies over half of the mountain gorilla population in Rwanda through the Karisoke Research Center. The charity also runs dedicated anti-poaching teams that patrol specific areas of the forest to intercept poachers and remove snares. In addition, the charity runs conservation education programs in Africa to train up the next generation of gorilla protectors. 

What they’ve achieved: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund now protects over 350,000 acres of wild gorilla habitat. In 2020, the charity’s anti-poaching teams removed 2,500 snares which resulted in 0 casualties. In the same year, the charity trained 88 undergraduates in conservation methods and planted 14,000 trees in local communities. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a gorilla or by taking part in their National Gorilla Day campaign.

Pan African Sanctuary Alliance: United for Africa’s Great Apes

The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) was founded in 2000 by a group of conservationists and primatologists in response to the increasing challenges facing primate rescue centers in Africa. Today, the charity is the largest association of wildlife centers in Africa. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Pan African Sanctuary holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has an 82% Encompass rating from Charity Navigator

A future where Africa’s great apes and monkeys can once again flourish in the wild.”

Pan African Sanctuary Alliance

What they do: The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance provides support, training, and funding to 23 wildlife centers and primate sanctuaries across Africa. In addition, the charity works closely with local law enforcement agencies to arrest wildlife smugglers and rescue illegally captured primates so they can be rehabilitated and treated at the sanctuaries. 

What they’ve achieved: Today, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance cares for over 3000 primates across 13 African countries, including bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas. In 2020, the charity rescued 239 primates from wildlife crime syndicates and reintroduced 162 back into the wild. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a Primate Protector or by volunteering.

Borneo Orangutan Survival: Rescuing Vulnerable Orangutans

Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) was founded in 1991 by Dr. Willie Smits to conserve critically endangered Bornean orangutans and their habitats. Today, the charity is the worlds’ largest orangutan conservation organization.

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Borneo Orangutan Survival spent 68.8% of their income on conservation programs and 9.2% on fundraising.

“To restore the natural balance for Bornean orangutans.”

Borneo Orangutan Survival

What they do: Borneo Orangutan Survival rescues orangutans that have been injured or orphaned by deforestation and the wildlife trade. The orangutans are then treated and rehabilitated at one of the charity’s sanctuaries before being released back into the wild. Borneo Orangutan Survival also works closely with indigenous communities to protect and restore the last remaining wild orangutan habitats. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, Borneo Orangutan Survival has rescued over 2,500 orangutans and protected 1.1 million acres of rainforest habitat. Today, the charity cares for 432 vulnerable orangutans and has already released 485 individuals back into safe wild habitats. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Borneo Orangutan Survival through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting an orangutan or by booking a Borneo retreat holiday where you will have the unique opportunity to enjoy private tours of the orangutan sanctuaries. 

Gorilla Doctors: Saving a Species One Gorilla at a Time

Gorilla Doctors was founded in 1986 by Dr. James Foster after he worked with Dian Fossey as the resident veterinarian at her Volcanoes Veterinary clinic for gorillas in Rwanda. Today, the charities’ veterinarians monitor and protect gorilla populations in all three of their native countries. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Gorilla Doctors spent 88% of their income on gorilla conservation programs and 12% on administration. 

“Dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla species one gorilla patient at a time.”

Gorilla Doctors

What they do: Gorilla Doctors is the only organization in the world exclusively dedicated to conserving mountain and eastern lowland gorillas through direct veterinary care and scientific research. They also rescue and rehabilitate mountain and Grauer’s gorillas that have been orphaned by poachers. In addition, the charity helps to train local African individuals in veterinary care and wildlife health by sponsoring professional educational training programs

What they’ve achieved: Gorilla Doctors conduct 400 rescue operations and around 40 medical interventions on wild gorillas every year. Thanks to the continued work of the charity, the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga Massif National Park has seen a population increase of 26.3% in 7 years. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Gorilla Doctors through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a symbolic Gorilla Guardian or by purchasing items from their online shop.

Ape Action Africa: Helping Endangered Primates in Cameroon

Ape Action Africa was founded in 1996 by Avi and Talila Sivan to improve living conditions for primates housed at the Mvog-Betsi Zoo in Cameroon. Today, the charity has grown into one of the largest primate rescue organizations in Africa. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Ape Action Africa holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity has yet to be rated by Charity Navigator.

“To address the immediate threats faced by gorillas and chimps in Africa and to work with communities to develop long-term solutions to ensure their survival.”

Ape Action Africa

What they do: Ape Action Africa rescues orphaned and injured gorillas from poaching groups and other forms of wildlife crime. The animals are then cared for at the Mefou Primate Sanctuary in Cameroon where they are given expert veterinary care until they are well enough to be released back into the wild. The charity also works with the Cameroon government to formulate effective conservation strategies and run bushmeat education programs for local school children. 

What they’ve achieved: Ape Action Africa now cares for over 120 chimpanzees, 25 western gorillas, and 10 groups of monkeys, at their 1000 hectare Mefou Primate Sanctuary. Most of the species they care for are critically endangered in the wild so their work is vital for preserving Cameroon’s natural heritage. In 2019, the charity was the first organization in Cameroon to successfully return a western lowland gorilla to the wild.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Ape Action Africa through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting an ape or by fundraising.

Save the Chimps: Rescuing Chimps in Need

Save the Chimps was founded in 1997 by Carole Noon after she was outraged over the treatment of captive chimpanzees held by the US Air Force for research. Today, Save the Chimps is one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world, providing life-long care for rescued chimps. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Save the Chimps holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.

“To provide sanctuary and exemplary care to chimpanzees in need.”

Save the Chimps

What they do: Save the Chimps rescues vulnerable chimpanzees from research laboratories, the pet trade, and the entertainment industry, and provides them with life-long care at their sanctuary in Florida. The area consists of 12 separate 3-acre islands where chimpanzees can live in natural social groups. The charity also provides comprehensive medical care to the chimpanzees that need it and houses a separate facility for special needs chimps that are unable to join a group. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, Save the Chimps has rescued and provided sanctuary for 330 chimpanzees across 150 acres of land. In 2002, the charity began conducting the 9-year process to relocate 266 chimps to the sanctuary from a biomedical research lab in Mexico. This was the largest ever rescue effort on behalf of captive chimpanzees in the world.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Save the Chimps through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a chimpanzee or by volunteering at the sanctuary.

Gibbon Conservation Center: Promoting the Conservation of Gibbons

The Gibbon Conservation Center was founded in 1976 by self-taught primatologist Alan Richard Mootnick after he gained a fascination for gibbons as a child. Today, the charity is committed to preventing the extinction of vulnerable gibbon species through public outreach and research. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Gibbon Conservation Center holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has an 85% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.

“To promote the conservation, study, and care of gibbons through public education and habitat preservation.”

Gibbon Conservation Center

What they do: The Gibbon Conservation Center houses and cares for individuals of all four genera of gibbon, to understand the unique needs of these intelligent animals. The non-invasive research conducted at the sanctuary is then used by scientists to formulate efficient conservation plans in the wild. The charity also provides classroom material and courses on gibbon conservation for students from kindergarten right through to college level, as well as offering educational field trips to the sanctuary.

What they’ve achieved: The Gibbon Conservation Center currently cares for 36 gibbons, including the critically endangered Northern White Cheeked Gibbon. To date, the charity has successfully reproduced 7 endangered gibbon species in captivity and is currently the only institution in the world to house and breed all 4 genera of gibbon.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Gibbon Conservation Center through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a Gibbon or by visiting the center in Santa Clarita, California. 

Center for Great Apes: Providing Sanctuary for Orangutans and Chimpanzees

The Center for Great Apes was founded in 1993 by Patti Ragan after she developed a love of orangutans while spending several months volunteering on a wild orangutan rehabilitation project. Today, the charity provides sanctuary to rescued chimpanzees and orangutans at their care center in Florida.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Center for Great Apes holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as well as a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“To provide a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, from the exotic pet trade, or other detrimental situations.”

Center for Great Apes

What they do: The Center for Great Apes provides sanctuary for chimpanzees and orangutans rescued from abusive situations such as the illegal wildlife trade and the harmful entertainment industry. The sanctuary consists of 12 3-story enclosures with the largest being 80ft long and approx 34ft high! The chimps and orangutans are provided with regular enrichment, foraging opportunities, and an elevated chute system that allows them to roam the sanctuary. The charity has also set up a separate indoor habitat for apes with special needs

What they’ve achieved: The Center for Great Apes currently cares for 27 orangutans and 44 chimpanzees. They are also in the process of building new enclosures to house even more individuals. To date, the Center For Great Apes remains the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in North America.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Center for Great Apes through their website. Alternatively, you can support the charity by symbolically adopting an ape or by purchasing items from their Amazon wishlist

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for protecting apes. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to protecting apes – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Carla Shaik

Carla is passionate about animal welfare and our natural environment and is on a mission to give you the knowledge you need to help protect our planet and all of its inhabitants. She holds a bachelor's of science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, is a teaching support officer at the College of West Anglia, and also works as a cat sitter in her local community. Aside from writing, she has a love of music, teaching her daughter how to play piano, and enjoys getting creative with craft activities.

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