Creativity and conservation is coming together in schools across Devon.
The Great Gorillas Project is celebrating the 90th birthday of the region’s largest and best-known zoo, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. Life-size model gorillas are being sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter.
Schools can use the event to showcase their students' creativity to staff, parents, governors and the local community.
Paignton Zoo, a registered charity, has developed The Great Gorillas Project in partnership with Wild in Art, an experienced arts, events and education company,
Schools receive a blank 76cm gorilla sculpture which students can decorate. They also get an education pack full of cross-curricular lesson starters and ideas, guidance notes on art and design, online materials and access to a subsided outreach programme enabling one of Paignton Zoo’s Education Officers to visit.
Paignton Zoo Head of Education Lisa Stroud said: “This event provides a fantastic opportunity to engage students with cross-curricular subjects and for schools to showcase their students’ decorated gorilla sculptures for the public to enjoy. The education pack covers topics including gorilla conservation, habitats, behaviour, diet, daily routines in the wild, enrichment at the Zoo, physiology and movement.”
School gorillas will be displayed indoors at public venues such as shops and libraries across Devon for 10 weeks during the summer. The models will also be able to join a display at Babbacombe Model Village, in Torquay, during the Autumn half-term.
They will then return to their schools as permanent mementos.
The project will help Paignton Zoo to continue its vital conservation and education work, and support efforts to save the Cross River gorillas from extinction. The Cross River gorillas closely resemble the lowland gorillas at Paignton Zoo.
Found along the southern section of the Nigeria-Cameroon border, fewer than 300 Cross Rivera gorillas remain in the wild. It is the most endangered African ape, ranking among the world's 25 most endangered primate species. Threats include illegal hunting for bushmeat and habitat loss.