An Alphabet Of Things I Like: G


Looking into the face of a gorilla is the closest you can get to a human in the animal world, in my opinion. They live in family groups, love and care for their young, and do not hurt anyone or anything, existing on a vegetarian diet.

When I was very young, I was taken to London Zoo to see Guy the Gorilla. He was a famous exhibit there, having arrived in 1946. When I got to his cage, I was overwhelmed with sadness. The huge animal was in a relatively small cage, behind rows of iron bars like a prison cell. This is a photo of him around that time.

He sat close to the bars with his arm extended, and his hand palm up. After more than twelve years in captivity, he had already become used to zoo visitors offering him treats, and he would catch them when they were thrown at him. All were unsuitable of course, and included biscuits, (cookies) chewy sweets, (candy) and even ice cream thrown in paper tubs. The zoo staff made no attempt to stop anyone feeding him, including my mum, who had brought along some iced biscuits especially for him. She was delighted when he caught each one, and ate it immediately. I wanted the staff to let him go, so he could return to living in the jungle again. My mum told me he wouldn’t know what to do in the jungle now.

Guy was kept on his own for over twenty-five years. Eventually, the zoo decided to provide him with a mate. But they never really got on, and never produced any baby gorillas. Guy died in the zoo in 1978, after being little more than a well-fed prisoner there for his entire life.

I was also quite young when I saw the original 1933 film version of King Kong.

Despite the gigantic gorilla being portrayed as violent, including eating people and destroying things, the sympathy of the audience was directed at the poor creature, and his cruel exploitation by showmen and profiteers. When he is mortally wounded, and falls from the top of the Empire State Building, I cried. Later film versions also showed King Kong in a sympathetic light, with the similarity between the emotions of gorillas and humans being remarked upon.

Like many animals, Gorillas suffer at the hands of poachers in the countries where they still live in the wild. Some are killed for food, others for traditional medicine ingredients, and many more to provide grisly ‘trophies’, such as their heads and hands. In recent decades, various indivduals and some organisations have worked hard to establish refuges and safe areas for gorillas in African countries. Wardens have been employed to discourage poachers, and ‘gorilla tourism’ has been established, with people visiting groups of gorillas who have become used to the close proximity of humans.

Let’s hope that this continues, until gorillas are no longer endangered. It would be tragic indeed to see one of our closest relatives become extinct.

54 thoughts on “An Alphabet Of Things I Like: G

  1. Pete, the concept of a “Zoo” is something that has evolved dramatically in the past few decades: outdoor Savannahs replacing cages, free roaming areas instead of confined spaces…that said, the best way to appreciate these incredible animals is to protect them in their natural environment!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here they have closed the zoo to the public, although it continues to work to protect endangered species, breed some… I’ll never forget Snowflake (Floquet de neu, Copito de nieve) the albino gorilla who lived in the zoo of Barcelona. He couldn’t have survived outside as he was too easy to spot, but he was a true character. He knew he was the star of the zoo and would put on a performance when he felt like it. (He held the carrots as if they were a cigar).
    I’ve always had mixed feelings about monster (a very loose definition of monster, really, and felt sorry for them, because it wasn’t their fault.
    Thanks for sharing your reflections, Pete, and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not a huge fan of gorillas I have to say, don’t know why, but I hate seeing any animal in a zoo that is not suitable for it. Some of the more open wild life places are better and some zoos can be good. But not for sociable animals. Same with elephants. And watching bears pace back and forth is heart-breaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice choice, Pete. We had a very popular gorilla, Casey, in St. Paul’s Como Zoo. He liked to interact with the viewers to his nice, as zoo enclosures go, ‘home’. One early morning he decided to get out and went to the nearby golf course and watched the early morning golfers. His handler came and they walked hand in hand back to his home.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. They are magnificent animals for sure and it always pains me to see them in the zoo no matter how nice the enclosure. And how remarkable that they can be taught to use sign language to communicate with humans! Rather accommodating of them!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. They are gorgeous and fascinating creatures. I have found a distaste for zoos in my later years especially. I support rehabilitation facilities more than zoos. The faces of caged animals are sad indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree, my experience has been identical to yours, my empathy has led me to tears for the plight of the gorilla many times. I remember watching Planet of the Apes in the 70’s, and remember thinking what if? Evolution is a fickle thing! Great post, C

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These animals are amazing. Probably know the answer to this one, but have you ever seen the movie Gorrila’s in the mist. Amazing film, not to mention an amazing true story.
    We had a Gorilla here in Holland in a zoo that critically wounded a woman. Only goes to show once more that these animals don’t belong in captivity😔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was that the woman who fell/jumped into the enclosure? I have seen incidents when children have jumped in, and the animals have been shot. They were only defending their territory. I feel sad for them.
      Yes, Sigourney was very good in that film, though some people have said she was nothing like the real Dain Fossey. (Artistic licence, I suspect.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No it was a woman who kind of agitated the beast as well, which is why she was attacked. But true, as you say, when things like that happen it always makes me sad they shoot an animal, simply because it’s defending territory😢
        Sigourney really was amazing, but it definitely would not surprise me if they tok some artistic licence with the character. Definitely enjoyed that movie though, that’s for sure😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. That was the programme that really kick-started the popularity of conservation, and increased public awareness. That was broadcast in 1979, the year after Guy died in London Zoo.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. (1) Advice to King Kong: Never bite off more than you can chew.
    (2) Advice to Mighty Joe Young: Don’t play with fire.
    (3) Advice to wild gorillas: To avoid being spotted in the wild, stay in the mist.
    (4) I identify more with the orangutan. If I had an orangutan friend named Clyde, I’d let him loose in the house, but I wouldn’t always let him have his way.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Twycross Zoo is somewhat better than London Zoo was. There’s also an Edgar Allen Poe story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, where the villain turns out to be an orangutan (I thought it was a gorilla till I looked it up). This is one of his stories that does not ring true today

    Liked by 2 people

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