King Nyani Arrives at Taronga Zoo

King Nyani Arrives at Taronga Zoo

#Conservation, #Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 20th April 2022 by Media Relations

The excitement mounts as the time draws near when the international icon for gorilla conservation will make his new home in one of Australia’s most famous zoos, Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

King Nyani first made headlines in August 2020 when he reclined his way into the hearts and minds of New Yorkers. At a whopping 30 feet in length, King Nyani is the largest gorilla statue in the world with an incredibly large call for action. 

From international public artists, Gillie and Marc, King Nyani is spreading the important message of gorilla conservation around the world. 

Gorillas are one of our closest relatives sharing 98% of our DNA. They share many of the same behaviours as humans such as laughter and sadness. But there may be only 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild and fewer than 3800 eastern lowland gorillas. Humans are the reason why. Illegal poaching, war and deforestation are making it harder and harder for this beautiful animal to survive.

Guests posting with King Nyani - Taronga Zoo Sydney
Guests posting with King Nyani - Taronga Zoo Sydney
King Nyani Opening - Taronga Zoo Sydney
King Nyani Opening - Taronga Zoo Sydney
Guests posting with King Nyani - Taronga Zoo Sydney
Guests posting with King Nyani - Taronga Zoo Sydney

“On a trip to Uganda, we had the unbelievable privilege to meet a family of critically endangered mountain gorillas. We were bewitched by the incredible silverback, the head of the family, and his unforgettable love and kindness towards every member of his family,” shares Gillie.

Inspired by the classic movie King Kong, Gillie and Marc decided the story needed a major rewrite to share the truth.

“In the movie, Kong is seen as a ferocious beast. That was so far from our experience meeting the actual animals. We wanted to show the world that this great creature was really a pacifist who put family above all else,” shares Marc. 

King Nyani gives an interactive experience unlike any other. With his hand large enough to fit 2-3 people, the public can get up close and personal with this gentle giant and fall in love with him. Taronga’s vision is to secure a shared future for wildlife and people. Sitting in the giant hand of King Nyani brings Taronga’s conservation message to life – the future is in our hands.

“We wanted to create a sculpture where the public could really get close to the silverback, both physically and emotionally. Being able to sit in his hand and look up into his gentle face we hope they will fall in love and join the movement to save the gorillas,” says Gillie.

Taronga Zoo’s King Nyani is the third edition. The first is currently located at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago while the second will be installed at the Bruce Museum, CT, USA.

“We decided to create three editions after seeing the unbelievable response to the original Nyani in NYC. We knew that this was a cause that many people were willing to get behind. This was a chance to inspire 3 times as many people to protect gorillas to save them from extinction,” Gillie explains. 

King Nyani can be seen at Taronga Zoo, Sydney’s only not-for-profit zoo, reclining in front of the zoo’s iconic harbour view. 

Taronga is for the wild and as a not-for-profit organisation, is committed to securing a shared future for wildlife and people. At visit to meet King Nyani means that vital funds can go back into the support, care and protection of wildlife.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia’s Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr AO, said: “Nestled under a fig tree, and only metres away from Taronga’s iconic harbour view, King Nyani gives guests an impressive and unforgettable welcome to Taronga Zoo. 

“We are so grateful to Gillie and Marc for generously allowing Taronga Zoo to be King Nyani’s home here in Sydney. 

“We hope kids and adults alike will enjoy getting up close to him, and to learning more about his real-life cousins here at Taronga Zoo and in the wild.” 

Visitors to Taronga Zoo will be able to visit King Nyani in his new home next to the Centenary Viewing Platform. This generous donation to Taronga from artists Gillie and Marc Schattner was made possible by the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.