Bokito (gorilla)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bokito1 gorilla.jpg
SpeciesWestern gorilla
Born (1996-03-14) 14 March 1996 (age 23)
Berlin, Germany
ResidenceRotterdam, Netherlands

Bokito (born 14 March 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 18 May 2007, abducting a female visitor and severely injuring her.

Bokito was born in the Zoologischer Garten, 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 later took place.



In mid-2004, Bokito escaped from his enclosure in Berlin and climbed its 3-metre-high (9.8 ft) wall. He was escorted back to his enclosure without incident.[1]

On 18 May 2007, Bokito jumped over the water-filled ditch that separated his enclosure in Rotterdam 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 a 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 the public from the gorillas, while making eye contact with Bokito and smiling at him. Although smiling is often associated with submissive or non-aggressive behavior in gorillas,[4] eye contact is a practice that is discouraged by primatologists, as apes are likely to interpret eye contact as a challenge or a form of aggressive display.[citation needed] 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, "When I smile at him, he smiles back".[2][5][6]


The week after Bokito's escape, a local health insurance company sponsored the production of 2,000 BokitoKijkers ("Bokito viewers"), paper visors which disguised the direction of the wearer's gaze.[7] 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,[8][9] and a Eurobest Silver at the 2007 Eurobest European Advertising Festival.[10]

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 Word of the Year for 2007 in the Netherlands.[11][12]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Four injured as escaped gorilla recaptured". Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. 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. ^ Waller, Bridget M.; Cherry, Lyndsay (2012). "Facilitating Play Through Communication: Significance of Teeth Exposure in the Gorilla Play Face". American Journal of Primatology. 74 (2): 157–164. doi:10.1002/ajp.21018. PMID 22512019.
  5. ^ [1] (in Dutch) (via
  6. ^ "Dutch woman still likes gorilla despite attack". NBC. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  7. ^ "FBTO Health Insurance: Bokito Viewer". Archived from the original on 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  8. ^ DDB's award list for Cannes 2008 Archived October 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Cannes 2008 winners list at
  10. ^ EB 2007 Direct Winners[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Favorite ‘Dutch’ word for 2007 is ‘Bokitoproof’
  12. ^ Woord van het jaar 2007 (in Dutch) via

External links[edit]