Runners raise $35K for gorilla conservation

(Paul Shelton / KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — About 600 people put on their gorilla suits Saturday and took a run around The Mueller in East Austin. The 5th annual Austin Gorilla Run collected funds for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF).

The 5K race raised more than $35,000 for the non-profit organization, which works to protect the highly endangered Mountain Gorillas in Africa and preserve their habitat. MGCF provides veterinary services to highly endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“It’s quite a sight to see close to almost 1,000 humans dressed as gorillas running in their gorilla costumes,” said Frank Keesling, President and Race Director of MGCF. “We are keeping Austin weird in a fun and quirky environment, as well as bringing awareness to a wonderful cause and a beautiful species.”

Mark Bond was the first male competitor to finish Saturday’s 5K race with a time of 23:30. Margaret Collins, the first female “gorilla,” completed the course in 26:42.

Runners enjoyed plenty of food (bananas included), drinks and music once they crossed the finish line. The family friendly event also included a kids obstacle challenge.

MGCF officials say the number of living Mountain Gorillas in Africa has risen from 248 to about 880 since the organization was founded in 2001.

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