Engaging with sculptures at ZSL London Zoo

Arts and sciences are both vital to human culture and they help people to reconnect with nature and take action to protect it. Sculptures can be found across the site of ZSL London Zoo, they engage, inspire and delight visitors. Some feature famous animals whilst others are memorials to people involved with ZSL, they highlight the variety of the animal kingdom from dung beetles to giant pandas.

Sculptures at ZSL London Zoo are an important part of our heritage together with our many historic buildings. Here you find out more about Architecture at ZSL London Zoo together with a flavour of ZSL’s rich history.

As visitors enter ZSL London Zoo they encounter a bronze sculpture of one of our most famous and iconic animals – Guy the gorilla. The sculpture itself is also very popular, make sure you stop and say ‘hello’ when you visit. This bronze, from 1982, is by William Timym, 1902-1990. Guy the gorilla, 1946-1978, was an immensely popular inhabitant of the Zoo, possibly the most popular ever? Although Guy was large, this sculpture is larger than lifesize. He has been moved to various locations around the Zoo but he has been in his present location, greeting visitors since 2012.

Statue of Guy the gorilla
Statue of Guy the gorilla

A few smaller bronzes by William Timym can be found in ZSL Library & Archives and a large painting of Guy the gorilla.

William Timym was also sculptor of a bronze head of a male lion found in Land of the Lions. This sculpture was presented to ZSL in 1976 when the previous lion exhibit was first opened, the Lion Terraces. If you are visiting do rub his nose for good luck.

Another lion's head can be found in Land of the Lions, this is thought to date from 1875 and was in the Old Lion House built in 1875-77. It is now opposite the entrance to the ZSL London Zoo Lodges where guests can stay book to stay overnight.

A 'mask' of a male lion's head mounted on a wall in Land of the Lions exhibit
Lion head mask from the Old Lion House, 1875-77.

 

Another famous former inhabitant was Winnie the bear who helped to inspire A.A. Milne’s ‘Pooh bear’. You can currently see two sculptures of Winnie at ZSL London Zoo.

Winnie, c1914-1934, a young black bear, was purchased by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn. She was named Winnie after the city of Winnipeg, Lt. Colebourn’s home. She was brought to England with him, becoming the mascot of his regiment, the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. When going to fight in France, Lt. Colebourn left Winnie at ZSL London Zoo for safekeeping. He visited when he could but at the end of the First World War he decided to present her to ZSL. A bronze of Winnie with Lt. Colebourn can be seen next to ZSL’s War Memorial just outside Butterfly Paradise near the pelicans.  Bill Epp is the sculptor of the bronze, it was presented in 1995 by the ‘people of Manitoba through their Government’.

Winnie the bear statue

Winnie’s name was immortalised by A.A. Milne in his ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ books. A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, were frequent visitors to the Zoo.

A sculpture of Winnie can be found in Animal Adventure this is a bronze by Lorne McKean. It was unveiled by Christopher Robin Milne in 1981.

An amazing automaton is found outside the entrance to the Blackburn Pavilion. It is a clock designed by Tim Hunkin, engineer, artist, cartoonist and writer. Make sure to see the clock on the hour or half hour when it springs to life, beginning with clanking noises before people and birds begin to move. Keep an eye on the letters spelling out ‘Blackburn Pavilion’ on the roof of the building as something appearing there can be easily missed.

A large metal clock with moving parts outside the Blackburn Pavilion
Tim Hunkin clock

Giant pandas are an iconic species in conservation. Several famous giant pandas have lived at ZSL London Zoo in the past such as Chi-Chi and An-An. You can see red pandas at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo whilst at London there is a sculpture of Ming another famous giant panda who lived at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos in 1938 to 1944. This sculpture was unveiled in 2015 on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it was presented by the people of Sichuan as a symbol of friendship between China and the UK. The sculpture can be found opposite the llamas in Animal Adventure and near the red river hogs.

Wendy Taylor is the creator of a bronze sculpture of two dung beetles in the act of rolling a ball of dung, it is outside B.U.G.S The beetles and ball of dung are much larger than life-size! Another Wendy Taylor sculpture is located between the Wildlife Garden and the entrance gate to Land of the Lions, a large sundial in the form of an aluminium globe.

A sculpture of a bronze dung beetle rolling a large ball of dung
Dung beetle sculpture (detail) by Wendy Taylor

Two sculptures by Shenda Amery can be found at ZSL London Zoo. ‘Unseen prey’ depicting two running cheetahs, on the lawn next to the Terrace Restaurant. The other is the Ambika Paul Fountain, a bronze of Ambika, a young girl releasing a dove, on top of a fountain. Ambika was the daughter of a major ZSL benefactor, Lord Paul. The family were regular visitors to ZSL London Zoo during Ambika’s short life. There is a bust of Lord Paul by Sadiq at the entrance to the Farmyard in Animal Adventure

Bronze sculpture of a girl releasing a dove
Ambika Paul and dove, Shenda Amery, 1994

Statue of two cheetahs running on a lawn, chasing unseen prey
Unseen prey by Shenda Amery

 

In the entrance lobby to the Reptile House is a marble bust of a woman important in ZSL’s history, Joan Beauchamp Procter, 1897-1931, by George Alexander, 1881-1942. In 1923 Joan Procter was appointed as ZSL’s Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, the Reptile House was created very much to her design. Find out more about her in this blog by ZSL’s Archivist -  Joan Procter!

Tiger Territory contains a streak of tiger sculptures by a variety of sculptors. A 'streak' is the collective noun for tigers, useful to know in quizzes!

Many more sculptures can be found at ZSL London Zoo, so do look out for them as you explore. Further details of these sculptures and their sculptors can be found in ZSL Library and Archives online catalogueTo search for these and other art works click ‘Search Artworks’ on the left-hand sidebar and enter some details in the search box to discover more. The catalogue also includes details of other sculptures at ZSL London Zoo as well as other works of art in ZSL’s collections. Please do enjoy these works of art and be inspired!

 

Ann Sylph, ZSL Librarian, with thanks to Ann Datta, ZSL Volunteer Art Cataloguer and James Godwin (Photography)