Guy the gorilla, who was a famous London Zoo resident in the 1970s, will be centre stage in the new Sexual Nature exhibition at the Natural History Museum, opening next year.
Guy's body was donated to the Museum’s research collection in 1978. It has not been on display since the 1980s but will return to the limelight when the exhibition opens on 11 February 2011.
Sexual Nature explores sex in the natural world and the science behind it. Guy, a superb specimen of masculinity, will help show the behavioural strategy of dominant males in the natural world.
Guy was a western lowland gorilla and had a chest measuring 183cm and a neck circumference of almost a metre.
'Guy is a great example of a dominant male,' says Tate Greenhalgh, exhibition developer at the Museum. 'Male gorillas need to be big to compete for harems of females and defend their territories.'
Guy was born on 30 May 1946 and arrived in London from Paris Zoo on Guy Fawkes night, 5 November 1947, hence his name.
London Zoo tried for many years to get a mate for Guy and in 1969 was offered a 5-year-old female gorilla named Lomie. Sadly, they failed to produce any offspring.
Guy’s appearance was fearsome, but he had a gentle nature. Reportedly, when small birds flew into his cage he held them up to examine them carefully before setting them free.
Guy died of heart failure aged 32 in 1978, during an operation on his infected teeth. In 1982, he was commemorated by a bronze statue at London Zoo.
Western lowland gorillas, Gorilla gorilla, are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and are threatened mostly by destruction of their habitat.
More than 100 Museum specimens will be displayed in the Sexual Nature exhibition. Visitors will find out about the diversity of methods used for seduction and reproduction in the natural world.
Tate adds, 'Using specimens from the Museum’s vast collections Sexual Nature will reveal the intimate side of nature and explore how scientists are laying bare the facts of life.
'The exhibition will also explore the vast diversity of other animal domestic arrangements, for example, hyena species with dominant females and seahorses in which the male gives birth.’