Wilder – Bristol Zoo Gardens

Meet Wilder! A 7m tall western lowland gorilla made by Bakehouse Factory from reclaimed waste wood and steel. Her huge, animatronic arm was programmed to rise four times an hour so she could chomp a fresh green leaf, revealing her baby, Monty Alan, (and delighting guests with a shower of ‘gorilla saliva’) in the process!

When Bristol Zoo approached us to help them to devise their ‘Big Summer Send-off’, we wanted to make sure that we hit the mark. The installation would need to communicate important messages around conservation, be a draw in and of itself and had to appeal to visitors of all ages: the zoo has been part of the life of the city since 1836 and has had a huge role to play in gorilla conservation over the years, so the motif of a mother and baby gorilla stood out to us as the perfect symbol of the past, present and future of the zoo. We worked closely with the team at Bristol Zoo, who placed their trust in us – and the results were spectacular!

Wilder was constructed over 6 weeks by a team of brilliant creatives and makers comprising fine artists, CAD designers, welders, carpenters, mechanical engineers and scenic artists. Outside of the workshop, a busy team of costumiers, script-writers, and project managers worked on ticketed theatrical show to inspire future conservationists. The show, which enthralled visitors during the summer was delivered by professional Bakehouse actors using silent disco headsets, dressed with animal ears.

This huge installation was enjoyed by 10s of 1000s of visitors in the final weeks of the zoo. She featured on ITV and BBC news channels, was covered by national press, featured in the Guardian Pictures of the Day and created a storm on social media.