Baby Chimpanzee by artists Gillie and Marc

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NAME
Gombe named by Megha Okhai 

TITLE
Wild Baby Chimpanzee

GENDER
Male

AGE
4

FOUND
Central and West Africa

CONSERVATION STATUS
Endangered

From the famous Gombe Stream community in Tanzania, this 4-year-old chimp still has a lot to learn. He watches closely as his mum goes around her day to day life, learning as much as he can while taking every opportunity to have fun. He thought that he could be friends with another community that sometimes comes near his home called humans. They look and acted so similar to him he thought they would be great fun! But he was warned against them. They have been known to eat chimps and steal babies as their pets.

The chimpanzee is our closest living relative, sharing about 99% of our DNA. It’s even thought that we have a common ancestor who lived sometime between 7-13 million years ago! Through research we have been able to see some of the magical similarities between us and chimpanzees. We all have our own unique personalities, are incredibly social, can learn basic sign-language, and, most importantly use and make tools. 

A chimpanzee will usually only give birth to one baby at a time. The babies are completely helpless and the level of love and care given by the mother is crucial for a healthy baby. For the first 30 days of their life, the baby will cling to their mother's belly and will move on to riding on their backs at 5 or 6 months. They start to be able to move around independently by the age of 2 and by 4-6 are weaned. As young chimps, they will still stay with their mothers for up to 9 years. Until then, the mother will play with her baby and teach them all the important skills needed for being a chimp.

Chimps are incredibly social creatures. They have intricate connections between the different members of their community, touching, cuddling, and sometimes fighting with each other. Grooming is an incredibly important part of chimp life. Not only is it important to stay clean and tidy, but it’s also a fantastic way to strengthen bonds, build alliances, and relax. Chimps can spend a few minutes and even up to a few hours grooming each other, maintaining friendly ties between the community. The important bonds between chimpanzees can also be seen when the grieve for their dead. Those who were closest to the deceased are visibly more upset and spend a lot more time in the process of mourning. Mothers will carry their dead babies around; others will groom their friend. This shows their diverse and complex emotions, and most importantly, their ability to love. 

Chimpanzees are now endangered because of our actions. Because of major increases in human populations, miles and miles of their habitat is being destroyed, clearing space for city expansion, agriculture, roads, logging, and mining. This is making it harder for the chimps to survive, forcing them to live in smaller and smaller spaces and putting a major strain on food options. This issue over food, in particular, has led to human-chimpanzee conflict. In their desperation to find enough to eat, the chimps are forced to come to human settlements to steal food, mainly easy to grab things such as fruit, but when things are really tough, they have been known to take children. Families retaliate by killing the chimps to stop any other attacks. Chimps are also targeted by bushmeat hunters as they provide plenty of meat compared to other smaller animals. The hunters are also known to take the young as their pets or sell them on the illegal pet trade, a lifestyle that is never suitable for a wild animal. With DNA so similar to our own it is not surprising that chimpanzees are susceptible to many of the same diseases that we are. Since the 1980s, Ebola has been a major threat killing hundreds of thousands of chimpanzees.

HOW TO HELP 
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals. 

Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.

​The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.

To help protect these babies you can adopt them and help them via the WWF: > Click here: www.wwf.org.au 

If you are interested in buying Wild About Babies related art, you will also be directly helping real babies in the wild with 30% going to WWF to continue their fantastic work for animals conservation: Click here to browse art https://gillieandmarc.com/collections/wild-about-babies

ABOUT GILLIE AND MARC
Gillie and Marc’s highly coveted public artworks can be found worldwide including in New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, and Sydney. They are Archibald Prize finalists, won the Chianciano Biennale in Italy, took out the Allens People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2018 and Kids’ Choice Award in the 2016 Sculpture by the Sea and received the Bayside Arts Festival People's Choice Award in 2019 in Sydney.

The husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to make art for a better tomorrow. They are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as best friends and soul mates.

Gillie and Marc are also passionate eco-warriors and have dedicated their lives to protecting nature.

Gillie grew up with the wildlife in Zambia and Marc studied chimpanzees in Tanzania as a young man. Over time, the artists developed a deep appreciation for all living things and a desire to preserve the magnificence of the natural world. 

Through their art, Gillie and Marc aim to transform passive audiences into passionate advocates for animal conservation. Their mission is to use their work as a platform to continue spreading awareness about endangerment, which will ultimately lead to change and save species from extinction.

Their art has raised hundreds of thousands in donations for the many wildlife charities and causes they support through their project Love The Last.

Please follow @gillieandmarcart