Artists have been asked to capture dozens of gorillas – in paint – as part of an event to celebrate conservation in Devon.
Around 40 identical, life-sized sculptures of a large silverback – the dominant male in a troop – have been created as blank, three-dimensional canvases. A competition now, has been thrown open to professionals and amateurs to express their ideas, with an honorarium of £800 on offer to those selected.
The decorated gorillas will be displayed around Exeter and Torbay next year, creating a unique art trail to celebrate the 90th birthday of Paignton zoo.
Philip Knowling, zoo spokesman, said the fibre-glass shells, which weigh 30kg and stand 140cm high, were "quite impressive".
"Standing next to a gorilla is not something you can do in any other way – the heads on them are huge," he added. "It is a great idea to bring the community together and anybody can have a crack at it."
Once the winning designs are approved, businesses interested in sponsorship will be put in touch with the artists.
The wildlife park's marketing director, Pippa Craddock, said the project would mix art, education, conservation and public engagement.
Budding artists can download an application pack from www.greatgorillas.org.uk and have until January 4 to apply.
A public painting space will open from February so that people can watch the work in progress.