News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
September 17, 2021
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
NOTE: Scroll down to end of press release for photos of King Nyani. 

 
King Nyani—Largest Bronze Gorilla Sculpture in the World—at Brookfield Zoo
 

Brookfield, Ill.—The largest bronze gorilla sculpture in the world is finding a permanent home at Brookfield Zoo, thanks to the tremendous generosity of a group of donors. King Nyani, Swahili for “gorilla,” is an interactive sculpture that was created by renowned public artists Gillie and Marc Schattner to raise awareness on the importance of the critically endangered gorilla. The sculpture, which is located just inside the zoo’s north entrance, measures 23 feet long, 8.5 feet high, and weighs 4,766 pounds.
 
King Nyani’s large outreached right hand allows guests to get up close and personal to create a connection and experience like no other. Adults and children alike can learn the gentleness of a species that, at times, has been depicted as fierce and unwelcoming.
 
“We wanted to create a sculpture where the public could really get close to the silverback (male adult gorilla), both physically and emotionally. Being able to sit in his hand and look up at his gentle face we hope they will fall in love and join the movement to save the gorillas,” said Gillie Schattner.
 
Gorillas are one of humans closest relatives, sharing 98 percent of the same DNA. But, the eastern and western gorilla species as well as their subspecies are all critically endangered. Illegal poaching, civil unrest, deforestation, energy production and mining, and climate change are making it harder and harder for the animals to survive in their native habitat.
 
“Conservation is at the heart of everything we do at Brookfield Zoo, and creating opportunities to help understand the interconnectivity between humans, animals, and the environment is key,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates the zoo. “Like our iconic lion statues at our south entrance, we hope that King Nyani will create memorable moments for guests coming to the zoo for generations to come and inspire future conservationists.”
 
Brookfield Zoo is home to seven western lowland gorillas—JoJo, a 41-year-old silverback male who arrived in 2012; Binti Jua, 33;  Koola, 26; Kamba, 17; Nora, 7; Zachary, 5; and Ali, 3. The Chicago Zoological Society is a participating accredited North American zoo in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan. Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program that manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.
 
King Nyani’s inspiration comes from a wild family of mountain gorillas, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, that the Schattners experienced during a trip to Uganda. The sculpture, which was previously displayed at Bella Abzug Park in New York City, is based on the head of the family, a dominant silverback gorilla. The artists – called “the most prolific creators of public art” in New York City’s history by the New York Times – have dedicated their lives to saving endangered species through their public art, bringing the hard facts about conservation and their love of these animals into the thoughts and hearts of the public.
Brookfield Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species. Money raised through CZS’s Animal Care and Conservation Fund goes toward animal conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world, including for gorillas. 
 

 
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 Photo Captions—credit: Cathy Bazzoni/CZS-Brookfield Zoo
1, 2, 29, 37, 43, 87: King Nyani, the largest bronze gorilla sculpture in the world has a permanent home at Brookfield Zoo. The interactive sculpture was created by renowned public artists Gillie and Marc Schattner to raise awareness on the importance of the critically endangered gorilla. The sculpture, which is located just inside the zoo’s north entrance, measures 23 feet long, 8.5 feet high, and weighs 4,766 pounds.

 
About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.
 
 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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