Bokito (gorilla)

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Bokito1 gorilla.jpg
Species Western Gorilla
Sex Male
Born (1996-03-14) March 14, 1996 (age 19)
Berlin, Germany
Residence Rotterdam, Netherlands

Bokito (born March 14, 1996) is a male Western Gorilla born in captivity. Currently living in Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, he became the subject of considerable media coverage after breaking out of his enclosure on May 18, 2007, abducting a female visitor and injuring the woman severely.

Bokito was born in the Zoologischer Garten zoo, Berlin, Germany, and was abandoned by his mother at birth. He was then raised by human attendants. To avoid the risk of inbreeding, he was transferred to Rotterdam in August 2005, where the mauling incident would later take place.



In mid-2004, Bokito escaped from his enclosure in Berlin and climbed its three-metre-high wall. He was escorted back to his cage without incident.[1]

On May 18, 2007, Bokito jumped over the ditch that separated his Rotterdam enclosure from the public and violently attacked a woman, dragging her around for tens of metres and inflicting bone fractures as well as more than a hundred bite wounds. He subsequently entered the nearby restaurant, causing panic among the visitors. During this encounter, three more people were injured as a result of the panic. Bokito was eventually sedated with the help of a tranquilizer gun and placed back in his cage.[2][3]

The woman who was attacked had been a regular visitor to the great apes' enclosure, visiting an average of four times per week. She had a habit of touching the glass that separated her from the gorillas, while making eye contact with Bokito and smiling at him — a practice that is discouraged by primatologists, as apes are likely to interpret human smiling as a form of aggressive display. Zoo employees had previously warned her against doing this, but she continued, claiming a special bond with him: in an interview with De Telegraaf she said, "If I smile at him, he smiles back".[4][2][5]


The week after Bokito's escape, a local health insurance company sponsored the production of 2,000 BokitoKijkers ("Bokito viewers"), paper visors which disguise the direction of the wearer's gaze.[6] The visors were designed by advertising agency DDB Amsterdam, and won a Bronze Lion for promotional material at the 2008 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival,[7][8] and a Eurobest Silver at the 2007 Eurobest European Advertising Festival.[9]

The word "bokitoproof", meaning "durable enough to resist the actions of an enraged gorilla" and by extension "durable enough to resist the actions of a non-specific extreme situation" was voted the Dutch language "Woord van het jaar" (Word of the Year) for 2007.[10][11]


Bokito is the dominant male of his gorilla group. He has thus far fathered five children with two females in his group: the children were born between October 2006 and July 2011. The main contender to his title as dominant male, Dango, was transferred to Shanghai in 2007 along with his two primary female mates.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Four injured as escaped gorilla recaptured". Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Fielder, Sabine. "Did love or fury spur Dutch gorilla's attack?". Reuters. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "Gorilla goes on Dutch zoo rampage". BBC. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Bokito uitgelokt door steentjesgooiers en vrouw (Dutch)
  5. ^ "Dutch woman still likes gorilla despite attack". NBC. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  6. ^ FBTO Health Insurance: Bokito Viewer
  7. ^ DDB's award list for Cannes 2008
  8. ^ Cannes 2008 winners list at
  9. ^ EB 2007 Direct Winners
  10. ^ Favourite ‘Dutch’ word for 2007 is ‘Bokitoproof’
  11. ^ Woord van het jaar 2007 (Dutch) via

External links[edit]