Laura MacLatchy, professor of anthropology and associate chair, has collaborated with the Uganda National Museum, Kampala on a six-month-long exhibition entitled “The Apes of Uganda," which launched on February 24.

The exhibition is funded by a portion of a grant from the National Science Foundation supporting MacLatchy’s research on chimpanzee locomotion in Kibale Forest National Park. In recognition of her work, MacLatchy recently received the 2023 Wildlife Research Award from the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities in celebration of UN World Wildlife Day on March 3.

“The exhibition highlights the unique role of Uganda as a place for understanding the evolution of humans and apes, and for conserving some of the last surviving populations of African apes in the wild,” said MacLatchy. “For example, Uganda is the only country in Africa with multiple species of living apes (chimpanzees and gorillas) AND multiple fossil apes (Morotopithecus and Proconsul).”

“The Apes of Uganda” takes visitors through five thematic sections: “An Overview of Primates,” “Fossil Ape Evolution,” “The Lives of Chimpanzees,” “The Lives of Gorillas,” and “Conservation.” Content for the exhibition was developed by MacLatchy, Amon Mugume (Curator of Natural History, Uganda National Museum), and Alexandra Norwood (Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan), with contributions from U-M undergraduate and graduate students as part of their work for a topics course in hominoid evolution in the Department of Anthropology.

The exhibition was officially opened by the Honorable Tom R. Butime, Ugandan Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, and its launch coincided with a one-day research symposium featuring Ugandan primatologists, conservationists and colleagues from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other organizations.

The goals of the exhibition are:

  1. To present a scientifically rigorous, accessible exhibition that introduces the public to the living and fossil apes of Uganda, while also deploying central biological concepts including evolution, ecology, and conservation.

  2. To present to the public, especially to young Ugandans, cutting-edge research on ape evolution carried out in Uganda by Ugandan and foreign scholars.

  3. To promote public awareness of the conservation plight faced by the gorilla and the chimpanzee.

Accompanying this exhibit will be an outreach module that will first be used in Ugandan primary and secondary schools, and subsequently adapted for use in classrooms in the United States. Alexandra Norwood is taking the lead in these outreach efforts, which will begin this summer in Uganda, with help from Sharifah Namaganda (Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan). 

Funding is currently ongoing for the outreach component. If you would like to help support this outreach, please contact us at for more information.