Wildlife charities and the the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children are celebrating tonight after the Bristol Zoo Wow! Gorilla auction raised a staggering £427,300.
The gorilla sculptures, which had become such a well-known and loved site around the city during the summer, were sold at a glittering event at the Victoria Rooms in Clifton.
Part of the zoo’s 175th birthday celebrations, the gorillas were put up for auction to raise cash for Bristol Zoo’s gorilla conservation projects and Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.
With organisers expecting winning bids of about £1,500, the tone of the night was set when the first gorilla – S Express – was sold for £3,500.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Gorisambard – the Brunel-lookalike gorilla which had taken pride of place at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bids soared until the hammer fell at an incredible £23,000.
Meanwhile, another five-figure star was Still Life: Alfred by Arianne Wolodarsky which was sold for £12,000 and Elvis, which went for £10,200.
The audience for the sale in the Victoria Rooms was swelled by thousands online, watching the sale via a webcam. Audience figures showed 817 people were viewing the sale on Bristol24-7 alone at one point during the night, while about 3,500 watched on the Bristol Zoo Gardens website.
Speaking after the event, director of Bristol Zoo, Dr Bryan Carroll, said he was thrilled with the success of the auction.
“We never could have predicted how successful Wow! Gorillas has been and the total raised at the auction has further demonstrated that; we are absolutely delighted and thankful for everyone’s generosity,” he said.
“Wow! Gorillas has been a fantastic way to celebrate Bristol Zoo’s 175th birthday this year as well as being a great way to raise funds for two very important causes – our conservation projects for critically endangered gorillas here and in Cameroon, as well as Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal which is raising funds for the cardiology unit at Bristol Children’s Hospital.”
Nicola Masters, director of the Grand Appeal, added: “We are absolutely thrilled with the fantastic amount that has been raised at auction this evening. We are so thankful to Bristol Zoo for choosing to work with us on this project which has been enjoyed by so many people over the summer. The money raised tonight will have a huge impact on our Cardiology Appeal.”
Auctioneer Andrew Morgan said the Wow! Gorillas are a lasting work of art and memento of Bristol Zoo’s milestone year. “These wonderful gorillas have been a spectacular success and I was delighted and honored to be asked to auction them,” he said.
“The lucky bidders who bought a Wow! Gorilla will not only be directly supporting two excellent charities, but will be acquiring a lasting and valuable work of art.”
Bristol Zoo is also holding a raffle offering the chance to win limited edition Wow! Gorillas prizes. First prize is an unpainted, small gorilla, the same size as the schools’ gorillas.
Second prize is a small piece of a Formula One Marussia Virgin racing car engine in a presentation display box. Earlier this summer the Wow! Gorillas logo featured on the nosecone of the Marussia Virgin Racing Formula One team car at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Third prize is a limited edition, small ceramic Wow! Gorilla, painted in the style of one of the 61 Wow! Gorilla designs.
Raffle tickets cost £1 each, available from Bristol Zoo until Friday, October 28, when the winners will be drawn. Tickets are also available online at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/win-a-wow-gorilla.
Some of the biggest Wow! Gorilla bids…
- Gorisambard – £23,000
- Still Life: Alfred by Arianne Wolodarsky – £11,500
- Elvis – £10,200
- All of Noah - £9,500
- I-Spy – £8,500
- Do-Do-Do ‘the Funky Gibbon’ – £8,600
- Old Man of the Forest – £7,000
- Endangered PJ’s by Frances Cony – £6,500
- ‘Severn Bore’ – £9,000
- Sunny – £7,000
- Telula – £6,750
- Irene – £6,000
- ‘Reaching out’ – £5,500
- Pattern Gorilla – £6,500
- Banana Shirt – £6,000
- Grievesy – £6,500
- Midnight Shok – £8,500
- Apple of my eye – £5,500
- Bradisson – £5,500
- ‘Seeing you seeing me’ – £8,000
- Going Going Gone – £5,000
- Willard – £4,000
- Sabyinyo – £8,000
- Sky – £3,000
- Custard – £5,250
- My type of Bristol – £4,500
- Priscilla - £5,700
- S Express – £3,500