A group of seven life-size chimpanzee sculptures in bronze, by acclaimed Maryland artist Bart Walter, is a beloved attraction at the National Zoo. Titled "The Gathering," the sculpture sits in a garden near the Zoo's Think Tank, where scientific inquiry about animal thinking is explained.
Nonverbal communication and the individual roles within a great ape community are readily observable in "The Gathering" and educational graphics in the new garden include a puzzle-lesson.
Each bronze in "The Gathering" portrays a chimpanzee
fulfilling a different social role within its community. In
the center of the installation is "the Matriarch,"
comfortably seated next to "the Servant" who reaches
submissively toward his neighbor. The Matriarch's ragged right
ear, possibly the result of a bite from another chimp, suggests
that life among chimpanzees is not always so peaceful. "The
Observer" sits upright and alert watching the entrance
to the garden, while "The Alpha" controls the highest
boulder and with commanding eyes and
powerful out-stretched arms presides over his surroundings.
To his right is "the Ally," as well as "the
Explorer." A smaller and more delicate chimp figure is