Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The most famous resident of the London Zoo was given the name because he was welcomed in 1947 on Guy Fawkes Night. Guy the Gorilla had been born the year before in the French Cameroons and arrived via the Zoo de Vincennes in Paris in exchange for a zebra and a tiger. He became a household name during the three decades he lived at the zoo (PHOTO ABOVE TAKEN BY HENRY GRANT C. 1950, PHOTO HERE TAKEN BY WOLF SUSCHITZKY IN 1958). The British public was heartbroken when he died during a tooth operation in 1978, and outraged that his body was to be mounted and placed on display at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. The museum postponed its plans and instead stored Guy's half-cured skin in the freezer. But as museum press officer Sue Runyard explained to her superiors, the story would not die. My interest is that I should not have to explain to the press at some time why we allowed his remains to spoil,” she wrote in 1980. At that point, taxidermist Arthur Hayward was brought in, but found that the pelt was not in very good condition. His only option was to set the hairs in a latex replacement skin, which he stretched over a model. The results went on display to mixed results for a few weeks in 1982. The same year, a bronze sculpture by William Timym was unveiled at the London Zoo. In my humble opinion, neither one (IMAGES HERE) does the beloved gorilla justice.

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