Great British Bake Off’s Jo Brand and Henry Bird go ape for cakes

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

It's that time of the year to go ape for cake. Pic: GlobalIP/Lew Robertson
It's that time of the year to go ape for cake. Pic: GlobalIP/Lew Robertson

Related tags orangutans

The International Animal Rescue (IAR) is once again calling on bakers – both professionals and home enthusiasts – to bake a cake (or two or three) to save an ape. Here’s how to join the two GBBO celebs in this important work.

Now in its fifth year, the IAR’s Cake for Apes campaign has been getting people across the globe to don their aprons for the month of ‘Ape-ril’ to raise money to support its work.

Classified as a Critically Endangered species, the orangutan only stands a chance of survival if people start to take the problem seriously.​ Funded entirely by public donations, the IAR comes to the aid of wild orangutans left stranded, relocating them into safe areas of protected forest.

Its dedicated team cares for baby orangutans that have been taken from their mothers to be illegally sold as pets, along with the adults that have spent their entire lives in captivity.

IAR Indonesia also spearheads initiatives to safeguard orangutan habitats through an extensive landscape conservation project, which involves protecting forests, promoting sustainable farming, reforesting areas and creating tree corridors that allow orangutans to move freely between protected areas.

The nonprofit also uses education and outreach programs to inspire change within local communities and worldwide.

The entire project is an ambitious one, but one that is showing dividends. Budi is just one of many to feel the love and her journey from captivity to canopies exemplifies the transformative impact of IAR’s work. Initially confined to a tiny chicken cage, Budi flourished under the round-the-clock care provided by IAR. Now thriving in forest school, she grows more independent each day, showcasing the tangible impact of rehabilitation and release efforts.

Shared responsibility

Jo Brand and Henry Bird
Jo Brand and Henry Bird

IAR believes in the power of a shared responsibility for the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants​ and is calling on the cake lovers of the world – from professional pastry chefs and pâtissiers to enthusiastic home bakers and even those who are just keen to put their hands into their pockets – to host tea parties and cake sales to raise funds to support the cause.

Aiming to boost awareness around this year’s initiative, it’s again enlisted the help of English comedian, writer, presenter and actress Jo Brand – also host of The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice – along with Henry Bird, the youngest competitor from GBBO series 19.

In 2022, IAR inducted Brand as a guest judge for its Great Ape Bake Off competition, which ran concurrently with the Cake for Apes campaign.

“Whether you’re a business, a teacher or a parent – we need your help to show the next generation how they can take care of our planet and also the deep connection between wildlife, nature and climate,” said Brand.

“Cakes for Apes is a great opportunity to share International Animal Rescue’s message with young people whilst raising some funds to support the animals. We would love you all to take part.”

Bird has transitioned his passion for creating delectable treats to a broader mission of advocating for animal welfare and environmental conservation. Using his influence to support causes close to his heart, he authors The Times’ weekly environment newsletters and contributes to other environment stories across the newspaper.

“I’ve always loved animals, the environment, baking and want to make a positive impact,” said Bird.

“Cakes for Apes gives me a fun way to contribute and raise awareness about the critical need to protect rainforests and the animals that depend on them. It also helps to raise funds to support the animals and educate future generations.”

How to get involved

female bakery owner and customer Oleksandra Polishchuk
Pic: GettyImages/Oleksandra Polishchuk

At the bakery

Donate 10% from every slice of a particular cake sold throughout the month of April. IAR will even create a poster to tell your customers that you are supporting Cakes for Apes. Or simply put out a little jar out to collect spare change from customers throughout the month.

In the office

Get employees baking and creating, but more importantly, eating – asking for donations for each treat. Ask your employer if they will match what you raise. And if your office likes a bit of competition, why not host an office bake off, with entrants judged by their peers. Ask entrants for a small donation to take part or to be a judge. The competition could also be held in stages – such as a different office department each week – throughout the month.

At home

Invite friends over for cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake in return for a small donation. The cake is obviously totally guilt free as every slice will be helping care for orangutans. Cakes for Apes is also a really fun activity for everyone in the family – young and old.

At school

Cakes for Apes is also a great way to get children involved. The younger generation is the only hope for the future survival of the species, so it’s important to get them passionate about it from the get-go. IAR’s free Cakes for Apes fundraising pack includes a poster template that can be printed and put up to let everyone know when and where they can enjoy some cake. Schools are also invited to take advantage of IAR’s free to download educational resources.

Every cent makes a difference

Orangutans - Markus Mauthe Greenpeace
Pic: Markus Mauthe
  • £100 could provide urgent medical supplies for a sick or injured orangutan.
  • £500 could help reforest and protect precious orangutan habitat.
  • £4,000 could return a rescued orangutan to their home in the wild.

“We would love anyone taking part in Cakes for Apes to share their photos on social with #CakesForApes,” said IAR’s Phily Day.

“We are committed to rescuing and rehabilitating as many orangutans as possible and giving them a second chance to live safely in their natural environment.”

Related news

Follow us


View more