Love The Western Lowland Gorilla
Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo
This 15-year-old silverback will do anything for his family. He will lead them to food, protect them from threats, and give them lots of hugs and kisses to make sure they know they are loved. Except he has a problem. The humans come to attack his family, killing some for food and taking the babies as pets. And with the humans comes something else, disease. His family have been lucky so far but he has heard of other families being completely wiped out by the deadly Ebola virus. He hopes it never reaches his home.
The smallest of all the gorilla, the Western Lowland Gorilla are 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, and tree bark and pulp. They are incredibly peaceful animals, living calm and nonviolent lives, except when they are provoked. When this happens, the dominant male can demonstrate his strength with a mighty display, standing on two-foot, 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, and 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 safely on mums back 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 gorilla. They are 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 wanted or thought. Koko was also elevated to stardom 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 this gorilla are poaching and disease and it is estimated that their numbers have declined by over 65% in the past 20-25 years. Hunting the adults for bushmeat and the babies for pets is a big problem. In Northeast Congo alone, approximately 5% are killed each year because of this. Being so closely related to us in terms of DNA is also a big problem when it comes to disease. Central Africa has been struggling with the deadly Ebola virus for a long time and it’s not just humans affected. Gorillas and chimpanzee have been badly affected with estimates stating that one-third of wild gorilla populations, mostly made up of the western lowland gorilla, have been killed. One community, once considered one of the most important populations, 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.
With 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. Through 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. 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 to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/