Shanghai's own King Kong dies

Bouleman died at Shanghai Zoo on Monday, aged 44 (90 in human terms). "He was nearly 2 meters tall, and was very popular," said a zookeeper.
Ti Gong


Bouleman, Shanghai’s first and oldest gorilla has died.

Aged 44 (90 in human terms), he died at Shanghai Zoo on Monday. His skin and bones will be sent to Shanghai Natural History Museum for scientific use, the zoo said yesterday.

Bouleman was born in the wild in Cameroon. His parents are thought to have been killed by poachers. Bouleman was rescued at around 12 months old and was later sent to zoos in Europe.

In 1994, he came to Shanghai from Rotterdam and spent the rest of his life here. He was also the biggest and most powerful gorilla at the zoo. 

The zoo said Bouleman was unsociable, timid and suspicious due to his sad childhood experience, and he could be bad tempered. Sometimes he hurt other gorillas, but he established a close bond with zookeepers. 

As the first gorilla to Shanghai, he was viewed as the city’s own “King Kong” by many residents, said animal keeper Jiang Guowei.

“He was nearly 2 meters tall, and was very popular, leaving a deep impression on many local residents,” said Jiang.

“He looked very mighty when he first arrived and always strolled here and there majestically.” But in later years he moved slowly and spent most of the time sleeping, Jiang added. 

The average lifespan of a gorilla in the wild is 35 years old; 44 years old is equivalent to 90 years for a human, the zoo said. 

In recent years, Bouleman gradually lost both appetite and teeth. In the last month of his life he had to rely on pulp made from food. 

After Bouleman’s demise, the zoo now has five gorillas. The oldest is a female — Quenta, aged 17.

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