Mini Adventure: Gorillamania in Bristol

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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What I did
Bristol's Wow! Gorilla hunt

Flag of United Kingdom  , Bristol, City of,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Talk about gullible. When Phil said 'come on Nick, it'll only take 2 to 3 hours' I was persuaded. He was talking about the latest craze to hit Bristol, 'Gorilla Bagging', and he wanted to 'bag' or photograph 48 gorillas. The Jungle Book song I wanna be like you came to mind (and unfortunately stayed there most of the day), but ape associations aside the title turned out to be strangely fitting. As we pushed off on our mountain bikes, heading across to Cathedral Green to see Grievesy, we had no idea we'd be joining the rest of Bristol doing exactly the same thing; ranks of families in their cars, bikers on Harleys, cyclists and walkers of all ages, all with funny little smirks on their faces as though they were slightly embarrassed to be doing this, but were actually really enjoying themselves. 

Grievesy is Bristol Rugby Club's captain, but in this instance he's one of 61 gorilla statues, painted by different artists and placed in strategic locations around the city, as part of the fantastic Wow! Gorillas project. Developed by Wild in Art this colourful project marks the 175th Anniversary of Bristol Zoo whilst also seeking to raise awareness of the desperate plight of gorillas and other apes in the wild. And judging by the number of people we saw out with their gorilla map or booklet, this project has undoubtedly inspired and connected with thousands - mums, dads and tiny toddlers, teachers and school-children, big business and small, holiday-makers and locals, waifs and strays (like Phil and I) and celebrities too.

Five and a half hours of cycling, 17 miles and a little too much sunshine later we'd bagged ourselves 47 of Bristol's Gorillas. We were tired and well weathered, but I must admit pretty satisfied too. I'd got completely absorbed in the task, even becoming quite crest-fallen when it transpired that No. 19, Super G-Downhill Racer, was imprisoned inside the closed St. Nicks Market. This led to much discussion amongst the groups searching the area for him. People had got passionate too about Alfred (No. 39) being inaccessible behind the gate bars of Ashton Gate Stadium. One mum, tongue in cheek, even mentioned starting a petition to free him. The camaraderie was brilliant. 

When trying to sell the idea to me in the morning Phil had also said, 'It'll help us get to know Bristol' and, although his timings were well out, he was definitely right about that. We'd had so much fun exploring the city, and it is a great city to cycle around. Our route had taken in, amongst many highlights, the spectacular view down the Avon Gorge, the relaxed Sunday vibe on North Street, the rich industrial heritage of Harbourside and commercial heart of Cabot Circus. 

We'd had a delicious lunch in MShed on the south bank of the harbour (wow, go check out the cakes in there!) and rounded off our day with a pint of No. 7 in the Grain Barge, looking out at gorilla No. 35, Gorilla Shape, Bristol Fashion. Perfect.

"Yoo--hoo-hoo! (hoopdeeweep) 
I wanna be like you-oo-oo (hapdeedoobedoobop) 
I wanna talk like you (cheep) 
Walk like you (cheep), too-oo-oo (weebadeebadoodop) 
You'll see it's true-oo-oo (Shhobeedeeboo) 
Someone like me-ee-ee (scoobeedoobeedooweep) 
Can learn to be 
Like someone like me 
TAKE me home daddy!

The gorillas are only around for the summer, so if you haven't already, get happy Gorilla-bagging. Visit the Wow! Gorillas website at:, oobee doo!

Nickie & Phil
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