Kivu the Gorilla lends a hand to create Glass Art for Ape conservation

03 August 2011

Auction now live here on ebay »

A unique piece of gorilla art is being auctioned by Paignton Zoo to raise money for international ape conservation.

The Zoo – a registered charity – is selling a glass cast of the imprint of a gorilla hand.

The impression was taken from the right hand of eight year old male lowland gorilla Kivu when the Zoo’s vet team performed a bone marrow biopsy on him recently. Modelling clay was used to take the impression while Kivu was under anaesthetic. A plaster cast was made from this by Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust reserves warden Dave Ellacott. The hand print was then created in glass by craftsmen at Dartington Crystal, Torrington.

This is an extraordinarily beautiful object. It is, like gorillas themselves, wonderful and precious. This is a rare chance to own a piece of art that has a direct connection with one of the most amazing species on the planet. It will appeal to art collectors, animal enthusiasts and anyone who values quality. Gorillas are closely related to humans but are becoming increasingly rare. Every penny we can raise will help in the battle against extinction."

Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling

The piece, engraved with Kivu’s name and the year 2011, is nearly 30 centimetres long and about 20 centimetres wide. It weighs 2.54 kilos. The cast was made by Dartington Crystal master craftsman Paul Sullivan.

The glass imprint will be auctioned on E-Bay in September. Before then the Zoo is collecting expressions of interest so that they can let people know when bidding opens. To register, e-mail and quote GGH.

Phil Knowling: “It is extra special to have the name of Dartington Crystal associated with this object. They have been very supportive and enthusiastic. Visitors to their factory in Torrington can have their hands cast in glass – but this is the first time they have cast a gorilla’s hand!”

Sue French from Dartington Crystal said: “We were delighted to help with this very special project. It was a real challenge for us at Dartington Crystal as it's not every day that you get to cast the hand of a gorilla and raise money for such a cause. Visitors were so interested when the casting took place that we decided to do a replica of Kivu's hand to put on display in our Visitor Centre at Torrington.”

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is supporting the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ape Campaign 2010, which aims to raise one million Euros for global ape conservation. The Zoo is hoping to donate £10,000.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to or ring 0844 474 2222.