Published Jul 2022
28 bronze chimpanzees have appeared by the River Thames, in a free public art trail to support conservation projects.
Chimps Are Family is located between London Bridge and Tower Bridge on the south side of the river. The sculptures demonstrate 18 different behaviours and emotions shown by chimps — with whom we humans share 98% 0f our DNA — including love, grief, friendship and conflict.
You'll find the simians dotted around the area, close to landmarks including HMS Belfast, Hay's Galleria and the Unicorn Theatre.
Each chimp has a QR code — scan it for info about the specific ape that statue is based on, and to learn more on chimpanzee conservation efforts. Many subspecies are classed as endangered, and are nearing extinction in some of their native countries due to issues like deforestation and bushmeat hunting.
Seeking out the statues and snapping photos is a fun way to pass some time, especially for younger Londoners, but there's a serious element too. The outdoor exhibition has been put together in support of conservation charity WWF UK, with an online fundraising campaign running alongside it (you can use that QR code to 'adopt' one of the statues too). Money raised goes towards protecting chimpanzee habitats in Central Africa.
The bronze statues are the work of artists and activists Gillie and Marc, who were responsible for the recent and similar lions exhibition in Waterloo, which was in aid of Born Free, as well as the Rabbitwoman and Dogman statue in Spitalfields, among others.
Gillie and Marc have designed the sculptures to be interactive and engaging. We're encouraged to get as close as we want, touching their faces, examining their hands — even hugging them — so you may well struggle to drag your own little chimps away.
Artists Gillie and Marc Schattner said:
"We hope this exhibition will help people see the similarities between us and chimps. Just like humans, they laugh at funny things, get cross with one another, and have fantastic bonds of friendship. We hope that once people see how similar we really are, they will want to help protect them."
Chimps Are Family is in situ until 21 October 2022 — so bookmark this page now if you've got kids to entertain in the summer holidays. It's free to visit, though do consider making a donation to that fundraising campaign, and if you're sharing images on social media, use the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #ChimpsAreFamily.