Guildhall Launches “The People’s Gorilla”

The Guildhall Shopping Centre is to take part in the Great Gorillas Project with a ‘the People’s Gorilla’ called Ubuntu, which is South African for a friendly and open person – and schools and groups in and around the city are invited to contribute to the final design.

The centre is sponsoring the project which will see life-size model gorillas painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter.

The project is celebrating the 90th birthday of the region’s largest and best-known zoo, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, which is a registered charity. It is also raising funds for gorilla conservation and a local community project.

Ubuntu has a unique twist, in that schoolchildren and members of groups in and around Exeter are invited to submit their own designs and drawings of gorillas. These will be reduced down to a uniform size and used to decorate Ubuntu. The end result will be a truly community effort.

People can make their contribution to Ubuntu from now until 22nd March, and more details about how to get involved are available on the centre’s website ( and its Facebook page.

More information is also available in a dedicated shop unit opposite Wilkinson, where Ubuntu is on display before it is covered in the people of Exeter’s artwork. The display also includes details about Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and the Great Gorillas Project.

Andrew McNeilly, Centre Manager at the Guildhall Shopping Centre, said: “This is a superb initiative and one with which we are delighted to be associated. Ubuntu is ‘the People’s Gorilla’, will involve as many members of the community as possible and will, we hope, prove to be a lasting tribute to the Great Gorillas Project and the city’s enthusiasm for it.”

The Great Gorillas Project is the catalyst for weeks of entertainment and activities in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, from crafts, bush tucker challenges and foraging to wall climbing and other physical activities as part of Go Bananas and Monkeying Around fun weekends.

Ubuntu is a South African Bantu word for a friendly and open person, and also describes the south African philosophy or worldview that Ubuntu (the essence of being human) speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness; you can’t be human all by yourself. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas we are connected and what we do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Further details about associated events and ways to get involved will be posted on the Guildhall Shopping Centre’s website,, and Facebook page.

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