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Jungle love for our gorilla man

The Brooklyn Paper

Gorillas of the world may not know it, but they owe a huge debt of gratitude to Park Slope accountant Ed Gerstein.

No, he doesn’t do their taxes, but Gerstein has turned his First Street accounting office into a one-man gorilla fundraising effort, goading customers into dropping loose change into his gorilla-shaped “piggy” bank for the past five years.

This week, he counted the money: $787.49 — and it’s all going to charities that protect gorillas.

Why gorillas?

“They’re just so fascinating,” said Gerstein, whose license plate reads “GORILLA.”

“I’ve always had an interest in them — they’re an animal that I’ve always cared about,” he said.

Clients are fully on board with Gerstein’s peculiar primate passion.

“The great thing about the gorilla-bank is that it’s the quintessential savings plan,” said Dave Arons, who is not only a Gerstein client, but a “Gorilla Fund” contributor. “You drop in a little bit at a time, you don’t touch it, and then you turn out with a lot of money.”

This week, after Gerstein finally crammed the last coin into his two-foot-tall plastic bank, he invited The Brooklyn Paper to journey with him to the Commerce Bank on Fifth Avenue for the emptying of the bank.

He lifted the 54-pound figurine off its dolly, heaved it onto a counter, and then spent the next 15 minutes shaking, shimmying and even chiseling at the change with a screwdriver, eventually getting all of the coins into the bank’s counting machine.

Even he was surprised to have raised so much. Gerstein split the cash between the Gorilla Foundation and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, two groups that protect apes around the world.

But Gerstein isn’t done helping gorillas — actually, he’s already at it again. Before leaving the bank, Gerstein deposited 49 cents into the significantly lighter gorilla figurine.

Look for an update to this story in 2012.

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Reader Feedback

Swimmy44 from Upper West Side says:
My family and I are lovers of Brooklyn and enjoyed this great story about the taxman - Ed Gerstein is a unique guy and a man with many interests, his dogs, and his generous donations to many charities. In addition to the gorilla bank, Ed donates on his own as well to the Gorilla Foundation(s) and to Brooklyn based animal shelters. Go Eddie - tax season is almost over!!!
March 28, 2008, 7:59 am
DAEPRO from Park Slope says:
Who would think taxmen have a heart? This guy actually cares. It is people like him who make a difference. I would be glad to give my spare change to his fund.
June 15, 2009, 2:35 pm

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