Carl Akeley, an innovator in the fields of taxidermy and photography, was also an accomplished sculptor. His bronze groups of animals are displayed prominently throughout the American Museum of Natural History in New York where he was an associate curator in the Preparation and Mammology departments. Among his assistants were the sculptors James Lippett Clark, Robert Henry Rockwell, Charles Robert Knight and Louis P. Jonas.
In 1921 Akeley went to the Virunga Mountains to collect mountain gorilla specimens for a diorama exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History. The killing of his first gorilla, a silverback which he named The Old Man of Mikeno after the mountain of the same name, was a turning point for Akeley. Looking into the dead gorilla's face, he had a change of heart. Recognizing the species' similarity to humans, he no longer wanted to destroy gorillas. He recognized their rarity and the need for research into their natural history. Akeley's party collected five gorillas that today form an integral exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Following this expedition, Akeley urged the Belgian government to create a permanent sanctuary for the mountain gorillas, and became instrumental in the establishment of the Albert National Park located in the Congo in Africa, in 1925.