Reddit’s #WallStreetBets community has spent a combined $300,000 dollars on endangered wildlife conservation thanks to their recent plundering of New York hedge funds.
The snowballing philanthropy started when members suggested they ceremonially adopt a gorilla through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—which operates in the Virunga Mountains of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
Further adoption ideas spawned from the gorilla initiative, as Redditors began posting images of their receipts from contributing to various wildlife programs including on behalf of snow leopards, bonobos, manatees, and warthogs.
By the time contributions had reached $300,000 on gorillas, even CNBC had featured a story about the Redditors’ charitable acts.
Did you see our adoptable gorilla Urungano on @cnbc @cnbcfastmoney with @melissaleecnbc today! Thank you to @Official_WSB for sharing their adoption of Urungano and helping us raise $311,110 since Saturday 👏❤️🦍❤️👏 pic.twitter.com/TgQUS3lAEp
— Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (@SavingGorillas) March 16, 2021
The original idea was an off-shoot of an internal moniker for the subreddit—The Ape Gang—reflecting their wild button pressing and mob rule strategy of stock investing. After the Fossey Fund took notice, they updated their homepage with a banner that quoted Planet of the Apes, and which read “Apes Together Strong.”
“The money these individuals have donated is an investment, not just in the Fossey Fund’s mission of Helping People, Saving Gorillas, but in our planet’s future,” Dr. Tara Stoinski, the director of Fossey, told Insider in a statement. “We rely on individual donors who give to us year after year because they know we can be relied upon to be careful stewards of their donations, no matter how large or small.”
Stoinski made a thank you video to the WallStreetBets community, thanking them for their support, which received more Reddit ‘awards’ than you could possibly count, and more than 158,000 upvotes.
Many of the gorillas were adopted under names like “Jim Cramer’s Tears,” and other troll-like aliases in response to the upsetting of the established apple cart, when WallStreetBets made headlines and history by leading their members in the equivalent of a 9th century-style Viking raid of the stock market.
Having discovered that major hedge funds had “shorted” a pair of stocks—AMC Entertainment and GameStop—to the tune of billions of dollars, the members grouped together and began bidding the price of these stocks up more than 300%, with GameStop reaching the five-hundreds at one point, having before sat at around $3 before the madness began.
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The reason for the bidding was that the “shorting” the hedge funds were doing meant the hedge funds were beholden to buy back the stock after a period of time, regardless of where the price was. Essentially, if a Redditor bought in even at the inflated price of $100, he would sell it to the hedge funds for $300 if the “short squeeze” reached that high.
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Some of the WallStreetBets members pillaged tens of thousands of dollars this way, and the shock was so substantial to the system that trading platforms like Robin Hood, TD Ameritrade, and more, blocked all buying and selling orders at one point, something that’s never happened before.
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