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  • Writer's pictureDiana Littlejohns

Chimpanzees and Pangolins

As it's the first World Chimpanzee Day this Saturday, my workshop this week celebrated and focused on our closest living relatives and why they're endangered.

In keeping with the African animals' theme, we also looked at pangolins, for they are such fascinating creatures, but relatively unknown, so much so that they might even go extinct before we've had a chance to understand, and therefore help them.

Watching their little faces light up in amazement, I explained to the children that Chimpanzees are our cousins and that we - humans - are part of the same family of primates.

Astounded I listened as one child described how she'd seen an early man on Andy's Prehistoric Adventures (CBeebies) walking on two feet and using tools just like chimpanzees and us. The teachers and I were impressed by the connections being made so quickly by someone so young.

The kids enjoyed colouring in and naming the chimpanzees on the board 'Molly' and 'Agria' - although I'm convinced the second name was a little boy trying to say 'gorilla' - as well as colouring in the pictures I'd sketched for them.

With an entire covering of scales, pangolins could easily be confused with a dinosaur and are often called scaly anteaters even though they are mammals of the order Pholidota ( The kids loved learning about these new animals and were very keen to complete their drawings of them. When asked why we need to look after these precious animals, the word 'endangered' kept being said or shouted with glee as the tiny tots knew they were getting the answer right.

Logging, sickness and hunting were all discussed and the more the four-year-olds began to realise how much we share in common with chimpanzees, the more they understood the importance of looking after them, and all other animals alike. This workshop felt like Conservation Art play at its most effective.

As a great way of raising awareness for chimpanzee care, protection and conservation in the wild, hopefully, the nursery children will have gone home and told their families about World Chimpanzee Day this week.

This story has also been posted on Jane Goodall' Roots and Shoots website,

Thank you very much for having me again Mad Hatter's, it was a lovely morning.

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