A day out, whilst in.
First things first. Preparation. You’ll need sunscreen, a sunhat, sunglasses and light clothing, ideally with long sleeves to protect from mosquito bites. Binoculars and a magnifying glass, real or imaginary. And plenty of water – it’s hot out there. A packed lunch that includes bananas, and a thermos of tea or coffee for the grown-ups. A means of watching BBC iPlayer, browsing the internet and, for the game, a newish – last three years or so -smartphone. (If you want to find out if yours will work, head to the Google Play or App store and search for the Wildeverse app. If it shows up, you’re in business.) Next, take or draw a picture of yourself or selves ready to set off. Expedition records are very important.
Are you ready? It’s time to find out more about what you’re looking for. You can skip this stage if you’re super-excited to get out straight away and/or hungry.
Watch one of these TV shows about chimps on the BBC iPlayer, depending how old you are:
Andy’s Safari Adventures, first shown on CBeebies. Suitable for pre-schoolers and above.
Baby Chimp Rescue. Suitable for teens and adults.
Honey-stealing chimps in the Congo. Suitable for teens and adults
New BBC series Primates. First airing in the UK on the evening of Sunday 26th April
Even if you skipped the TV part, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. Gen up on ape identification skills here:
Or via this handy summary:
Orangutan: ginger, long arms. As seen in Disney’s The Jungle Book. Also a librarian in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
White-bearded gibbon: white beard.
Western lowland gorilla: big – probably heavier than a person. Lives in western lowlands of central Africa. Mainly stays on the ground.
Chimpanzee: about the same weight or lighter than a person.
Can you now tell a gibbon from an orangutan? A chimp from an armchair? Let’s go to the jungle.
Download the Wildeverse app and play the game. Look for apes, meet conservation workers and search for droppings and signs of illegal activity. All inside your home. Who knew? Optional soundtrack from Spotify: The Jungle Book, a Gorillaz album, or a jungle playlist. The sun is directly overhead so make sure you have your sunhat and sunscreen on.
Picnic lunch. There are no sofas or chairs in ape habitat – you’ll have to sit on the floor. It’s several thousand miles back to the kitchen so you can only eat the things you brought with you. Anyone who breaks the rules gets a forfeit of their own or the other players’ choosing. Watch out for ants, snakes, spiders and apes stealing bananas. Don’t drink out of any streams unless you have iodine tablets. Remember to take a photo for the expedition record.
Whilst you eat, tell each other or yourself ape-related stories, see if you can spot more apes on these webcams , find out about other animals nearby via the Smithsonian Natural History Museum African mammals collection, or watch another chimp-related episode on the BBC iPlayer.
Pack up the picnic and travel home. Reminisce about your grand day out. Maybe draw or make a collage of your favourite ape or write a story or quiz about what you learned. If you’d like to take action, find out 15 ways to support apes.
If you still have energy, you can join the Chimp & See citizen science project and help researchers by detecting chimps in video clips. Otherwise, have a glass of something or cup of tea to welcome you home.
3 pm onwards
Recovery viewing: you’re probably tired after all that travel, so why not sit on the sofa – check for ape droppings first – and watch something ape-awayday-related?
- Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out
- The Jungle Book
- Planet of the Apes
- Gorillas in the Mist
- Primates, new BBC series, available from evening of Sunday 26th April
I hope you enjoyed your Online Ape Awayday. It’s my first attempt at an online day out so please leave any comments or suggestions for improvement below. If you’d like another wildlife adventure, how about the Ol Pejeta Sofa Safari in Kenya via Instagram or Facebook? It’s live every day at 2.30 pm UK time.
UPDATE: At 2 pm UK time on Thursday 30th April, gibbon enthusiast Susan Cheyne will give a 20-minute talk “for kids of all ages” on working in the Indonesian rainforest. Access is via Facebook or Zoom, see facebook.com/BorneoNature.Fdn or @DrSusanCheyne for details.