Max (gorilla)

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SpeciesWestern lowland gorilla
Born6 March 1971
Frankfurt Zoo
Died5 May 2004
Johannesburg Zoo

Max (6 March 1971 – 5 May 2004) was a western lowland gorilla[1] held at the Johannesburg Zoo who became famous in 1997 after being shot and wounded by Isaac Mofokeng,[2] a criminal who entered his enclosure at the zoo while attempting to evade police.

Max was born on 6 March 1971,[3] in Germany's famous Frankfurt Zoo and died 5 May 2004,[4][5] at the Johannesburg Zoo.

A bronze statue of Max has been erected near the gorilla enclosure in the zoo.[6]

Makoko, a gorilla from the Munster Zoo in Germany, replaced Max as Lisa's partner.[7]

Shooting incident[edit]

On 18 July 1997, police surprised Isaac Mofokeng while committing a crime in Saxonwold next to the zoo. Trying to evade police, Mofokeng entered the zoo grounds and the enclosure where Max and his mate Lisa were held. During the confrontation between Max and Mofokeng, Mofokeng was seriously injured and Max was shot twice with a .38 revolver, one shot in the chest and the other in the neck.[8] Three pursuing police officers were also injured during the ordeal, Constable Robert Tshabalala was bitten by Max on his arm and buttocks, Max broke the arm of Sergeant Rassie Rassenelebroke and Constable Amos Simelane broke his ankle.[9] Mofokeng was eventually shot and wounded by the pursuing police.

After zoo veterinarians failed to locate and extract the bullets at the zoo hospital, Max was sent for X-rays and surgery to nearby Milpark Hospital.[8][10] Mofokeng was later convicted of rape, robbery and wounding a gorilla. He received a 40-year sentence.[11]


  1. ^ "Hopes for a baby gorilla at Jo'burg Zoo". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  2. ^ "World: Africa Gorilla criminal sentenced in Johannesburg". BBC. 1999-04-09. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  3. ^ Braid, Mary (19 July 1997). "Wounded gorilla teaches thief a lesson in jungle law". London: The Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  4. ^ Moeng, Bontle (2004-05-06). "Max the Gorilla dies". South African Government. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ Bontle, Moeng (2004-05-05). "Sorrow as Max the gorilla dies". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  6. ^ "city of Johannesburg - Max the gorilla gets own statue". 2008-05-26. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
  7. ^ "Makoko the gorilla goes public". City of Johannesburg. 2005-01-20. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 24 January 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ a b "MAX THE GORILLA HERO WILL BE OKAY". 1997-07-19. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Christopher, Munnion. "Gorilla shot as fugitive seeks refuge at the zoo". Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  10. ^ "Max the gorilla". Beeldenstad. Retrieved 24 January 2010.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "S Africa mourns crime-busting ape". BBC. 2004-05-24. Retrieved 24 January 2010.