What has your chin got to do with orangutan conservation? Quite a lot, according to a new campaign launched today by the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS).

Comedian Bill Bailey, a Patron of the charity, is fronting the Ape-ril campaign, and asking people around the world to show solidarity with Sumatran orangutans, a critically endangered species, by going wild and growing a beard throughout April (Ape-ril).

Bill Bailey says “Help orangutans this Ape-ril! We’re apes too, so go wild and grow a beard – by raising awareness, and vital funds, we can make a real and lasting impact on the survival of orangutans. And that’s got to be worth a bit of an itchy chin.”

Explaining his own affinity with orangutans, Bill says “We share 96.4% of our DNA with orangutans – some of us, perhaps, a little more… I’ve been told I look like a man of the forest.”

Hirsute comedian Tony Law is also supporting the campaign. He says "Growing a beard is something that all male apes can do. Get in touch with your wild side and ask everyone you know to sponsor you to change your face for Ape-ril.

Get a team of Beardy Buddies together so you can offer each other support if things get a bit itchy, and swap grooming tips. My own top tip for a lustrous beard is…descend from Vikings. If you’ve already got a beard, then get creative with topiary or decorations, or dye it orangutan-orange."

Women and children can take part too, by wearing a false beard for a day, a week or even the whole month. There will be prizes for the best photos sent in to the Hairy Hall of Fame online gallery.

On his support for the charity, Bill says “Sumatran orangutans are on the edge of extinction, but SOS are working hard to turn this around – they deserve your support.”

Helen Buckland, Director of SOS, says: “SOS supports frontline conservation projects in Sumatra, and campaigns against the destruction of the rainforests. The funds raised during Ape-ril will help us keep working to protect orangutans, their forests and their future.”

Sumatran orangutans share 96.4% of our DNA, but they stand to be the first Great Ape to go extinct if we don’t act now to save their forest home. Sumatra is the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist – and all are critically endangered.

Visit the official Ape-ril website at www.Ape-ril.org to register and take part.

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