Monaco shows tragic face of the great apes

Posted: 15 May 2008

This summer visitors to Monaco will be able to come 'Face to Face' with an extraordinary photographic exhibition dedicated to the great apes.

Bonny, an orang-utan
Bonny, an orang-utan
Bonny, an orang-utan. Photo © James Mollison
Conceived by the UK Natural History Museum, and presented by The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Institut Jane Goodall France, the exhibition displays 30 unique portraits of gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-utans and bonobos, nearly all orphans and victims of the illegal bush or live animal trade.

"Each portrait, measuring 2 metres by 1.5 metres in size, highlights the vitality and intelligence of these magnificent and threatened animals" the exhibition organiers explain. Each image is accompanied by a biography, detailing the life story of the primate featured.

Pumbu, an orphaned gorilla
Pumbu, an orphaned gorilla
Pumbu, an orphaned gorilla. Photo © James Mollison
They are the work of British photographer James Mollison who spent over four years photographing apes in sanctuaries in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Germany and the United States. Dr Jane Goodall, the British primatologist, helped him develop relationships with the apes so each primate's personality and facial expressions could be captured through photography.

"The exhibition aims to encourage visitors to consider our relationship with, and our treatment of, the natural world by bringing us face to face with some of the individual animals which have been most deeply affected by the actions of humans", said Bernard Fautrier, Vice President of the Monaco Foundation.

James, a chimpanzee
James, a chimpanzee
James, a chimpanzee. Photo © James Mollison
Dr Jane Goodall added, "If we don't do anything to save them, in 10 to 15 years the great apes could disappear from the majority of the areas where they live now. There were about two million chimps in Africa one hundred years ago. They are dying out as a result of the expanding human population, deforestation, the destruction of their habitat, hunting and traps. The situation of mountain gorillas and orang-utans is even worse. The number of wild apes is falling while the number of orphans in sanctuaries is rising".

The exhibition opens next to the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco on 10th June and runs until 30th August 2008. Entry is free