By Hannah Sentenac
If the great apes are (basically) our brothers, we're the worst siblings ever: the Chet to their Wyatt, the Wayne to their Kevin, the Loki to their Thor. These incredibly intelligent creatures are facing serious risks, almost all of them caused by mankind -- from the bushmeat market to the illegal pet trade to habitat destruction.
But if you want to do right by our closest living relatives, you'll get your chance at the African Ape Awareness Festival. Come February 22nd, you'll get to learn a little more about our ape pals, immerse yourself in African culture, and mingle with primates at Monkey Jungle.
The fest will include two compelling keynote speakers; Allison Argo, a six-time Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker, and Dr. Andrew Halloran, Lynn University chimpanzee conservationist. Argo is the woman behind Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History and the Glenn Close-narratedThe Urban Gorilla.
"All the money we're raising is going towards The Last Great Ape Organization, a foundation that's based in the Congo, and their main focus is actually enforcing wildlife laws in those range countries where there's a lot of corruption," said event coordinator Anissa Rodriguez.
So what threats do the apes face? Well, there's the bushmeat trade (yes, there is such a thing), the illegal pet trade, habitat destruction by humans, and diseases, among others.
"Every year, there's an increasing demand for bushmeat. In those range countries they'll go in and hunt excess amounts of bushmeat -- not sustenance hunting. Then they'll ship it out to other countries. You'll find bushmeat in big cities like New York and Paris and London, all black market sales," Rodriguez said. "It's really a threat in so many different ways."
In addition to the advocacy education, there'll be cultural entertainment, too. Attendees will be treated to an African fashion show, a performance by the Delou African Dance Ensemble, and a dramatic bit penned by Kaithleen Canoepan.
If that's not entertainment enough, there's always the monkeys. Plenty of monkeys. Go show our ape brethren some love.
In addition to do-goodery, the festival is also an awesome chance to spend a day at Monkey Jungle on the cheap. If you purchase your tix in advance, you score all-day admission at a special discount price. So quit monkeying around and get it together for the weekend.
African Ape Awareness Festival. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Monkey Jungle, 14805 SW 216th St, Miami. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and ticktets cost $15 for adults, $10 for kids, and $30 for a family (two adults and three kids) via AfricanApeAwareness.Eventbrite.com. Call 305-235-1611 or visit monkeyjungle.com.