Wednesday 08 February 2023


What happens when you become so intrigued by a gorilla that you make frequent visits to the zoo to gaze at him across a water-filled ditch? In the case of the unfortunate Petronella Yvonne de Horde, the answer is severe injuries and a hospital stay.

Of course, the zoo knew Bokito had behavioural problems and that he might make an escape attempt – he’d done it before. But after having stones thrown at him and having been stared at intensely by a human, it seems the gorilla had had enough.
We’re talking about a powerful wild animal here. One with whom De Horde felt she had a ‘special relationship’, one whom she apparently believed smiled at her. (Rubbish, say gorilla experts, the curled upper lip was a sign of agression).
Surely she should have checked out gorilla behaviour if she was so obsessed with the creature. Anyone who’s ever watched a David Attenborough documentary must know by now that male gorillas are the king of their group and expect the females and younger males to be subservient.
Staring at them as if there can be understanding and then parading a rival male – albeit a human husband – in front of them is bound to lead to tears.
It would be cruel indeed if Bokito is now moved or put in a more secure enclosure for simply acting like a wild animal.

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