William Timym was born in Vienna and acclaimed as one of the leading pre-war political cartoonists. In 1930 he was arrested as a Jew but managed to survive the Nazi concentration camps and fled to England in 1938. He was responsible for many children's comic strips in magazines and newspapers of the 1940s and 1950s with characters like ‘Bengo’ the boxer puppy and his many canine friends. Timym was a great admirer of Guy and in 1982 received a commission from an anonymous benefactor to create a three-quarter-life size bronze sculpture of 'Guy' for Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The sculpture was delivered in November 1982 and today it is located at the Main entrance. To coincide with the arrival of the sculpture ZSL held an exhibition of animal sculpture and drawings by William Timym on 21–30 October 1982.
'Guy' came to London Zoo from the zoo in Paris in exchange for a tiger. The date was 5 November 1947, Guy Fawkes Day, hence his name 'Guy'. He was just over one year old when he arrived and was the first gorilla at London Zoo for six years. Being such a young animal all his 'gorilla training' had to be provided by his keepers. His early friends were a young chimpanzee and an orangutan. Over the years he became one of the most popular animals in the history of the Zoo. The Zoo had been trying for many years to obtain a mate for 'Guy' and in 1969 the Zoo was offered a five-year-old female, 'Lomie', from Chessington. For the first year after her arrival 'Lomie' was kept next door to 'Guy' in a separate enclosure so that the two could get to know each other. They were put together eventually and got on quite well, although sadly they did not produce any babies. While under anaesthetic for a dental operation in 1978, 'Guy' died from a heart attack at the age of 32. The Natural History Museum received the body of 'Guy', taxidermists mounted the skin and in November 1982 it was exhibited in the Museum's public galleries for the first time.
Where to see this painting?
Zoological Society of London
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