The University of York is co-hosting the UK’s only captive group of homo sapiens at Malton’s Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo.
The unusual display will raise money for forest conservation and increase awareness of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Great Ape Campaign.
A Flamingo Land spokesman said: “Humans are the last surviving species of the Homo genus and will join Flamingo Land’s chimpanzees as its second great ape species on show. Although humans are not endangered, nor part of a conservation breeding programme, it is exciting news for Flamingo Land as the homo sapiens will be promoting the Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP) which uses education and research to help conserve tropical forests in Tanzania.”
The four humans are research assistants with the Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning (CIRCLE) – a jointly-funded venture between the university’s Environment Department and Flamingo Land.
They will spend their day raising funds for the Udzungwa Forest Project with games, face painting and other public events, including a ‘human only’ great ape tea party.
Money raised from fundraising last year was used to buy a pedal-powered cinema, allowing Swahili conservation films to be shown in African villages. This year it will be used for equipment and training so African villagers can make fuel briquettes - a recycled fuel alternative to wood - and for major project costs such as school education and monitoring forest health.
The week’s fundraising will culminate with a team of humans running the 10-mile Ryedale Run, also collecting money for the Udzungwa Forest Project.
The human exhibition will run until September 5. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/teams/ufp. Collection buckets will also be available in and around the human enclosure at the zoo.