Spotted the monkeys swinging around the capital? London’s Chimpanzee Trail has gotten an extension until mid January and you NEED to check it out.
Have you seen the masses of chimpanzees that’ve been crowding the riverfront development at London Bridge City? The statues are part of an exhibition called Chimps are Family that was put up earlier this year as part of Earth Day celebrations.
They were originally meant to be taken down in October, but we’re happy to report that they’ve been given a few more months to monkey around. If you want to see them, you have until January 16th 2023.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why All This Monkey Business?
The idea behind the works is to raise awareness about our closest living relatives. They come from the artistic duo Gillie and Marc who were behind the ‘Orphans’ project of public art – those giant bronze elephants you might have seen around Spitalfields.
Run into those lions that were knocking about in Waterloo in early 2022? That was also some of their work.
Their work always focuses on raising awareness about wildlife conservation, and there’s no change here. According to Gillie and Marc, the global chimp population is expected to decline by 80% over the next 30 years.
Currently, three main issues threaten the roughly 150,000 chimps kicking about on Earth at the moment.
The first is human impacts on their habitat, often in the rapid expansion of cities, roads, and mines. This not only destroys their homes but threatens their food sources, forcing them into risking confrontations with people in order to find something to eat.
A surprising consequence of higher human-chimp interaction is the spread of disease. Being so closely related to us, chimps can easily pick up our illnesses. Ebola has been a lesser known cause of chimp deaths since the 80’s.
But you don’t need us to tell you this. You can find it all out when you visit the exhibition.
What the Chimps Are up To
The chimp statues are posed in various ways that express their similarities to us humans – there are 18 different chimpanzee behaviours in all.
You’ll see them playing, eating, making and using tools. Of course, there’s a bit of swinging from branches too. Our fave was a pair of chimps demonstrating their keen ability to imitate each other.
A trip to the chimp trail is also an opportunity to learn. Each chimp has a QR code that you can scan to learn some fun chimpy facts and, more importantly, donate money to charities that help protect our ape cousins.
Sculptures at Chimps are Family are also designed to be fully interactive, in fact it’s actively encouraged that you go and give some of them a hug or do some funny poses with them. And there’s always grounds for cracking that I-can’t-tell-the-difference joke when you snap a picture with that friend who might be a little closer related to the chimpanzee than the rest of us.
If you fall in love with one of the sculptures you can actually adopt it, with all the money from adoption going directly to helping chimpanzees in the wild.
Where You Can Find the Chimps
Chimps are Family is made up of 28 chimpanzee sculptures dotted around the area between London Bridge and Tower Bridge on the south side of the river. It takes art trail form, encouraging people to wander about finding the monkey sculptures.
You’ll run into a fair amount of them if you just stroll along the riverside past the HMS Belfast. At either end of the waterfront you’ll find the bipedal chimp outside London Bridge Hospital, and another statue of two chimps by City Hall.
Other chimps can be found among the buildings between the waterfront and Tooley Road, including a very sweet one of two chimps holding hands, and our fave – the aforementioned chimps imitating each other – outside More London Place.
If you’re a truly avid explorer, you can find the exact location of all the chimpanzees on the map at the bottom of this page.
Practical Tips for Exploring London’s Chimpanzee Trail
- This is the only chimpanzee trail London has, and it’s not on forever, so if you’re super keen to see it, get down there quickly.
- If you take a boat to London Bridge City Pier, you can hop right into the chimp-finding action.
- The Chimps are Family exhibit is using the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #ChimpsAreFamily. If you’re taking pictures for socials, add the tags to get the word out about chimpanzee conservation.