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Bristol Zoo presents gorilla sculpture to Cameroon school children - 14/04/11

Youngsters at a primary school in Cameroon, West Africa, have been given a surprise gift by Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Cameroon school children with gorilla sculptureThe Zoo’s Education Manager, Dave Naish, visited Metet village school to present them with a small gorilla sculpture to decorate and keep.

The sculpture is one of dozens available to sponsor by schools around Bristol as part of Bristol Zoo’s celebrations for its 175th birthday this year.

Bristol Zoo donated the sculpture to the school as it is the local school to a primate sanctuary run by Ape Action Africa (AAA), the primate charity the Zoo supports in Cameroon.

The sanctuary cares for 120 orphaned gorillas and chimps whose parents have been killed by poachers for the illegal bushmeat trade.

Dave Naish, Bristol Zoo’s Education Manager, said: “Metet village has close links to the primate sanctuary – many villagers work as keepers there - and the school has been part of Ape Action Africa’s education programme for many years.

“We really wanted to give Metet village school their own gorilla sculpture to get the children even more excited about gorillas and the need to conserve them and their forest homes for the future. Judging from their reaction to the gorilla, I think we achieved that!”

Metet school has around 60 pupils between the ages of six and 12. The school was built by Ape Action Africa threeyears ago, and is one of eight village schools visitedas part AAA’s education programme to raise awareness about the threats to primates, such as gorillas, and to get local children actively involved in conservation

Classes were stopped for the morning while Dave and AAA’s Education Officer, Elvis, took the statue into each classroom. Pupils were then asked to create their own designs to show how they would like to see the gorilla decorated.

Dave added: “The children threw themselves into the task and came up with some great ideas. The 60 designs were then displayed and the children voted for their favourite. It was a great morning of creativity and enthusiasm from all the children.”

The pupils have since decorated the gorilla, which they have named Gando, in an array of bright colours. Gando will now go on display in the primate sanctuary for the next year, to be enjoyed by thousands of visitors to Ape Action Africa.

The sculpture will then go to each of the other village schools in turn, every year, so every child in every school around the sanctuary will have a chance to decide how he is decorated.

Back in the UK, over 50 schools and nurseries across the Bristol region have now signed up to receive their own gorilla sculpture. These will go out on show along with the life-size gorillas for 10 weeks this summer in a mass public art trail across the region.

Children with painted gorillaThere are now just a few weeks left for schools wishing to sponsor a small gorilla, or for organisations wishing to sponsor a large gorilla.

Dave said: “Our ‘Wow! Gorillas’ schools project will encourage creativity in schools, and will stimulate learning about gorillas across the national curriculum, while helping to engage children in gorilla conservation. The schools’ colourful sculptures will also be enjoyed by thousands of Bristolians and visitors to the city over the summer.”

Schools are being encouraged to fundraise for a sculpture by holding events such as non-uniform days, cake sales, sponsored events and bring-and-buy sales, or by asking local organisations to sponsor a gorilla on their behalf.

For more information about how to get a Wow! Gorilla sculpture contact Judy Tucker on or by phone on 0117 974 7329, or visit the Zoo website at



For press enquiries please contact the Bristol Zoo Gardens press office:

Lucy Parkinson, T: 0117 974 7306, E:

Vanessa Hollier, T: 0117 974 7309, E:

Notes to the Editor

Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • Bristol Zoo Gardensis a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work. 
  • This year Bristol Zoo celebrates its 175th anniversary and wants to do more than celebrate.
  • Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes   all over the world, showed 40 millionschool aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
  • Throughout the year Bristol Zoo will be bringing people, businesses, charities and wildlife together to share amazing experiences that raise awareness and funds to save threatened wildlife and places. To find out more, visit
  • The Zoo will be focusing its efforts on raising funds and awareness in support of gorilla conservation and will be supporting theEuropean Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ape Campaign.
  • The EAZA Ape campaign aims to make a significant and lasting contribution to the continued survival of apes and their habitats, and is being led by Dr Bryan Carroll, the Director of Bristol Zoo.
  • Bristol Zoo has supported and been actively in gorilla conservation in Cameroon since 1998.

BristolZoo’s Wow! Gorillas’ project

  • The highlight of Bristol Zoo’s 175th anniversary year will see dozens of life-size gorilla sculptures placed on the streets of greater Bristol in a mass public art trail for 10 weeks from July 4th 2011.
    • Gorilla sculptures are available for sponsor by organisations, and smaller gorillas are available for sponsor by schools. To find out more about how to sponsor a gorilla, visit the website at
    • Bristol Zoo’s gorilla sculptures have been created by Wild in Art, which promotes art through the use of unique animal sculptures as three dimensional artist’s canvas.
    • The gorilla sculptures will each by individually painted by local artists.
  • As well as showcasing the wealth of creative talent the city has to offer, this eye-catching public exhibition will attract tourists to Bristol, while encouraging Bristolians to be tourists in their own city. The trail also aims to engender civic pride, stimulate the local economy and create a fun event for everyone to enjoy.