Apes Like Us first began as a journalistic project called Great Apes 2020. It was Gerry Ellis’ personal journey to answer the question of ape survival in the wild. Faced with escalating habitat loss, poaching, infectious disease transmission (Ebola), and host of threats things don’t look great.
Gerry realized it was clear, that without dramatic, urgent action apes like us would not survive in the wild. A horribly sad and unthinkable outcome for a group of amazing creatures he had spent decades photographing in the wild.
The project became the most ambitious of Gerry’s 30-year career as an environmental/wildlife photojournalist. What began simply turned into a multi-year global journey into remote Borneo and Sumatra, and the heart of Equatorial Africa, to chronicle the issues facing great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. His journey focused on a global perspective: on-the-ground explorations, interviews with prominent researchers and conservationists, as well as local people whose lives are inextricably linked to their neighboring great apes. But one lingering question traveled with him — how to tell the story. Traditionally books, magazines, documentaries, these were the vehicles for reaching his audience, but that audience remained small, mostly those who already understood the crisis. There had to be a better way.
Telling a Global Story?
Apes Like Us became the most logical, immediate, far-reaching way to tell what is truly a visual story about a home we share. Presented on the internet via YouTube a show specifically about apes – Apes Like Us – had the potential to reach a huge global audience; many who knew little or nothing about apes and the crisis they face. The show is not about any single ape species, group or problem, rather about the joy of apes and the wild places they live. Gerry does tackle the serious issues facing all apes—deforestation, poaching, conflict resources, industrial-scale agriculture (palm oil), zoonotic disease (Ebola) and climate chaos—but the focus rests on those individuals and groups trying to change the fate of all Apes Like Us.
Despite the hardship, danger and frustration faced by many dedicated conservationists and researchers, efforts to save great apes from extinction in the wild are largely failing. Why? Gerry began wondering if it was simply not enough people around the world fully understood the dilemma apes like us face. The answer — communication — at 35 billion views a day, what better vehicle than YouTube.
YouTube’s Unique Perspective
Presenting a show on YouTube offers a number of benefits to both telling the story and for the viewer to discover the world of Apes Like Us. Offered worldwide via the internet, every full episode and segment are watchable anytime, anywhere, on-demand. Most of the world receives their information via portable, mobile devices, if the plight of great apes is going to be seen and heard it’s critical to present the message on the platform, in a way best received. Reaching millions of viewers with over 35 billion YouTube gives Apes Like Us that opportunity. If enough people can be reached through the Apes Like Us show then maybe, just maybe, the incredible work of those conservationists and researchers, sanctuary staffs and field vets, park guards and anti-poaching patrols will not be without notice — and support.
GLOBIO’s Education Reach
Finally, it made sense to launch this show as part of the education outreach of GLOBIO, the US-based non-profit Gerry had helped found and had over 15 years experience connecting kids, educators and communities in exploring and understanding our connection to wildlife and the world around us. GLOBIO continues to support the Apes Like Us project and will be developing educator resources and other materials to compliment the content presented on Apes Like Us. GLOBIO also actively supports many of the sanctuaries and education outreach programs Apes Like Us will be presenting on the show, with a combination of resources, in-kind technical support and small grants. For more details and information about this work we invite you to explore the GLOBIO website. Tax deductible donations for special projects highlighted in Apes Like Us can be made on the GLOBIO website as well. Those wishing to make direct donations to a specific sanctuary should go to that organization’s website — many are listed here. If you are having difficulty please contact GLOBIO at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.