Tiny Baby Wonder Western Lowland Gorilla
Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo
This 2-year-old baby boy loves to have fun, and he’s finally confident enough to spend a bit of time away from mum playing with his siblings and learning to climb. But he is worried. He has noticed that a lot of gorillas in his community have been getting sick and dying- with some just completely disappearing! It seems to happen whenever a human comes close. He has been told to stay away from the humans, or they might to catch him and keep him in a cage.
The smallest of all gorillas, the Western Lowland Gorilla are also the most widespread, found in the thick tropical rainforests of western and central Africa. These vegetarians spend a lot of their time eating their favourite foods- roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, as well as tree bark and pulp. They are incredibly peaceful animals, living calm, nonviolent lives; except when they are provoked. When this happens, the dominant male can demonstrate his strength with a mighty display, standing on two-feet, charging, pounding his chest, hooting, and giving an almighty roar.
Just like us, female gorillas usually give birth to just one baby at a time. These little ones are tiny and helpless, only weighing about four pounds they are completely dependent on their mother. They cling to her fur for safety until about four months old when they learn to ride on her back. They will stay there, holding on for the first 2-3 years of their lives, watching and learning and getting a lot of love from mum. As they get older, they will start to play- climbing trees, wrestling, chasing each other, and learning everything they need to know to be a good ape. But, they will remain dependent on their mothers for up to 5 years.
Gorillas are some of the most intelligent animals in the world, and can even learn sign language! Koko the gorilla shocked the world in the 1970s with her ability to learn and communicate in sign language. She mastered 1000 signs, and was able to make statements of up to 8 words to let people know what she was thinking. Koko's stardom reached new levels when she adopted a kitten as a pet, a pet she had asked for, showing such care and love as if it were her own child. When her kitten died, she signed "Bad, sad, bad" and "Frown, cry, frown, sad, trouble" and was even heard making a sound similar to a human crying. Koko passed away in 2018.
The main threats for the Western Lowland gorilla are poaching and disease, with it being estimated that their numbers have declined by over 65% in the past 20-25 years. Hunting the adults for bushmeat, and capturing the babies for pets is a big problem. In Northeast Congo alone, approximately 5% of these animals are killed as a result of this. Being so closely related to us in terms of DNA also serves as a big complication when it comes to contagious diseases. Central Africa has been struggling with the deadly Ebola virus for a long time, and it’s not just humans who are effected. Gorillas and chimpanzee have been badly impacted by this disease, with estimates stating that one-third of wild gorilla populations, mostly made up of the western lowland gorilla, have died as a result. One community, once considered one of the most important populations, located in the Minkébé Forest, have lost 90% of their population to Ebola.
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 hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
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