Steve Ross, founder of
Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, has had to answer some tough
questions from his young children about how people treat
"My son has always been
interested in animals from an early age and asks a lot of questions
when he sees a chimp in the movies," Ross says. "He was sensitive
to why those chimps weren't with their moms."
As Ross was having those
discussions, he realized it would be a lot easier if there was a
way to put the issues into a context that would be attractive and
informative for children. So Ross and others at the zoo began
working with a Chicago production company to figure out the best
way to engage kids on this challenging subject.
The result is an interactive,
free children's book for the iPad called
Ross describes the finished
product as a cross between a book and a movie with actions and
sounds kids can explore.
"They can discover new facts
that are sort of hidden on first view. They can hear sounds when
they touch certain items," Ross says.
The book is presented in a
way that's not depressing or upsetting, even though it's tackling
an often depressing topic.
The story highlights things
chimpanzees love to do, including climbing and swinging in trees,
fishing for termites, building nests and playing with other chimps.
The story also carefully conveys a message about things that do not
make chimps happy, such as being separated from their mothers at an
early age and being isolated from their peers so they can be used
for performances in movies or circuses.
The zoo decided to offer the
app free of charge because that's fitting with the free zoo's
philosophy of making this type of education and information
available to as wide an audience as possible, Ross says.
"This is a fairly
high-quality app, but we didn't want that to only be available to
those willing to pay a price," he says.
Beginning Dec. 1, you can
learn more at
Chimps Should Be Chimps, designed for kids 3-8. chimpsshouldbechimps.com.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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