song for love: an ape with an app, a

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

A co-production of Terra Mater Factual Studios, Mark Fletcher Productions and Colorful Nature Films





Episode Information

Blind Date for apes? It started out as a crazy idea to help the world’s rarest gibbon, the Skywalker Gibbon, find the perfect mate. Now, males and females, sight unseen, are making bonds for life. Here is the extraordinary story of a rock star and a scientist who set out to save a disparate group of gibbons through love, imagination and song. The Skywalker Gibbon was only described by scientists in 2017. There are just a handful left, sparsely scattered throughout the spectacular Gaoligong Mountains on the China-Myanmar border. Like all gibbons they find their mates by singing to one. But the Skywalker Gibbons live so far apart that their songs are lost to the forests and valleys of their remote home, never reaching their potential partners. Doom for the lonely apes, doom for their kind. Enter Beijing pop star Musician Xingyu Lee, and Skywalker Gibbon expert Professor Fan. They have built a sophisticated outdoor sound system of speakers and microphones to connect Gibbons living vast distances apart. It’s like a giant karaoke experience for apes. Follow the bold experiment and meet the extraordinary contestants and their families! Filmed over two years in one of the world’s most challenging locations, ‘A Song for Love – An Ape with an App’ is a wonderful tale of hope, and features never before seen behavior of the elusive Skywalker Gibbon. But there are many practical problems to overcome. Poachers and impoverished farmers live here, and, amazingly, Fan enlists them to help, alongside local park rangers, city tech companies and international conservationists. Professor Fan is determined to make an all-wild match. In a first attempt, he hooks up a wild pair by telephone. They duet, and as the gibbons search for each other, drawn by their songs, Fan and the rangers move the speakers, and guide the gibbons through the jungle maze until they are within natural earshot. Thanks to a dating app and a wild love song down the telephone, the two Skywalker Gibbons are now about to meet – a match that could determine the future of a species. With this exclusive access to the Skywalker Gibbons in the wild, this film sports never-before-seen behaviour of the existing Skywalker families as well as the bachelors and bachelorettes amongst the gibbons. Two hard years of filming work paint a vivid picture of the gibbons in the wild; of their hardships and triumphs, and last but not least of all the amazing wildlife this patch of China has to offer: hornbills, charismatic red pandas and other species of gibbons racing through the canopy.

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