Arts, Culture & Heritage

Max the Gorilla

Last Updated: September 26, 2023
Artist

Professor Laurence Chait

A Brief History

Max, a mountain gorilla, came to the zoo in 1972 at the age of 1 from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany.

The gorilla made world headlines in 1997 when he confronted a thief who jumped into his enclosure to escape arrest. Max went on the attack, it is believed to protect his wife Lisa, and the thief shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the jaw. He was evacuated to the Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg by ambulance, where he underwent emergency surgery and survived. Max lived a further 7 years, dying in 2004 of heart and kidney failure at the age of 31.

Professor Laurence Chait was commissioned by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo to create a sculpture of Max the Crime Fighting Gorilla in 2006.

It was unveiled by Professor Philip Tobias the world famous scientist and anthropologist of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg on the 23rd May 2008.

Description

A larger than life size bronze sculpture of Max the Gorilla, cast by the Renzo Vignali Fine Art Foundry in Pretoria North. The sculpture weighs over 500kg.

Artwork Signage

Max, a mountain gorilla, came to the zoo in 1972 at the age of 1 from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany.

The gorilla made world headlines in 1997 when he confronted a thief who jumped into his enclosure to escape arrest. Max went on the attack, it is believed to protect his wife Lisa, and the thief shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the jaw. He was evacuated to the Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg by ambulance, where he underwent emergency surgery and survived. Max lived a further 7 years, dying in 2004 of heart and kidney failure at the age of 31.

Professor Laurence Chait was commissioned by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo to create a sculpture of Max the Crime Fighting Gorilla in 2006.

It was unveiled by Professor Philip Tobias the world famous scientist and anthropologist of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg on the 23rd May 2008.

Location & Address

Johannesburg Zoo, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkview, Johannesburg, Gauteng