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The Legends of the Jungle: Celebrating Famous Gorillas and Apes Through Time with Giant Bears

Embark on a journey through film, history, and television as we explore some of the most iconic and beloved gorillas and apes that have captured the hearts of audiences worldwide.

From Koko's incredible communication skills to King Kong's cinematic splendour, these remarkable primates have left an indelible mark on our culture. Whether you're looking to name your brand new Giant Bear gorilla sculpture or pondering what to call a cuddly toy, these legendary figures offer a wealth of inspiration.

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The Most Famous Gorillas Throughout Time

Koko the gorilla

1. Koko - The Communicative Gorilla: 

Born in 1971 at the San Francisco Zoo, Koko became internationally renowned for her ability to communicate using over 1,000 signs from American Sign Language. She was featured in multiple documentaries and made many television appearances, including on National Geographic Channel. Koko's emotional expressions, such as displaying sadness when told about her kitten's death, challenged conventional views on animal emotions. At the reserve, Koko lived with another gorilla, who also learned sign language. She died in her sleep during the morning of June 19, 2018, at the Gorilla Foundation's preserve in Woodside, California, at the age of 46.

2. Harambe - The Remembered Protector:

Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla, was born in 1999 and lived at the Cincinnati Zoo. His story gained worldwide attention in 2016 after a tragic incident where he was shot to protect a child who had entered his enclosure. Harambe's death sparked extensive media coverage and debates over animal rights and zoo safety protocols.

"The one and only Ivan" Movie

3. Ivan - The Mall Gorilla Turned Zoo Celebrity: 

Ivan spent 27 years in a solitary enclosure in a Tacoma, Washington, shopping mall before public outcry led to his transfer to the Atlanta Zoo in 1994. His story inspired the book and film "The One and Only Ivan," which explores themes of loneliness and freedom. Ivan was known for his gentle nature and love of painting.

4. Binti Jua - The Heroine Gorilla: 

Born in 1988, Binti Jua gained fame when she gently cared for a three-year-old boy who fell into her enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo in 1996. Her actions, captured on video, showcased the protective and empathetic capabilities of gorillas, earning her worldwide admiration and numerous awards.

Digit the gorilla with Dian Fossey his researcher

5. Digit - The Studied Silverback:

Digit was known for his close relationship with researcher Dian Fossey during the 1970s in Rwanda. He became a symbol of conservation through Fossey's work and the subsequent "Gorillas in the Mist" book and film. Tragically, Digit was killed by poachers in 1977, which galvanised international efforts against poaching.

6. Gargantua - The Circus Star: 

Originally captured in the Congo in the early 1930s, Gargantua became a major attraction for Ringling Brothers Circus in the United States. Renowned for his imposing presence and fearsome facial expression, Gargantua helped to draw massive crowds during his circus tenure in the 1930s and 1940s.

Snowflake the only albino gorilla

7. Snowflake - The Unique Albino Gorilla:

Snowflake was captured in Equatorial Guinea in the 1960s and lived at the Barcelona Zoo until his death in 2003. As the only known albino gorilla, he was a major draw for visitors and a subject of scientific study, contributing to our understanding of gorilla genetics.

8. Kiki - The Artistic Gorilla: 

Kiki resided at the San Francisco Zoo where she developed a passion for painting, often choosing bright colours and creating dozens of artworks. Her paintings were sold to fund conservation efforts, blending her creative expression with a cause to protect her wild cousins.

9. Jambo - The Gentle Protector: 

Born in 1961 and residing at the Jersey Zoo, Jambo became famous in 1986 when he stood guard over a five-year-old boy who had fallen into his enclosure, touching him gently and protecting him from other gorillas until help arrived. This act was one of the first widely seen demonstrations of gorilla empathy.

The stories of these incredible gorillas and apes not only entertain us but also teach valuable lessons about compassion, intelligence, and the complex emotions of our closest animal relatives. As you consider names for your Giant Bear sculptures or cuddly toys, let the legacies of these legendary primates inspire you.

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Giant Bears Top 20 Gorilla and Ape Names for Your Sculptures or Toys:

Looking for the perfect name for your Gorilla Sculpture? Check out our Top 20 Gorilla & Ape names below!

  1. Kong - Perhaps the most iconic movie gorilla, King Kong first appeared in the 1933 film "King Kong" and has since been featured in multiple movies, including remakes and sequels. His depiction as a giant ape who forms a tragic bond with a human woman has become deeply ingrained in popular culture.

  2. Joe - Originally appearing in the 1949 movie of the same name and later remade in 1998, Mighty Joe Young is a giant 15 foot mountain gorilla who shares a strong bond with a young woman who raised him. The story centres around their struggles to protect Joe from poachers and other threats.

  3. Caesar - From the "Planet of the Apes" reboot series starting in 2011, Caesar is an intelligent chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising against human oppression. His character is central to the storyline and is noted for his depth and complexity.

  4. George - A comedic character who was portrayed as a clumsy but kind-hearted and lovable "Tarzan" spoof. The character was later brought to life by Brendan Fraser in the 1997 live-action film adaptation. The film captures George's comedic antics as he navigates modern civilisation with his pet elephant and best friend, an ape named Ape.

  5. Kala -  In Disney's "Tarzan," Kala is a gentle and loving gorilla who adopts the human child Tarzan and raises him as her own. Her character is central to Tarzan's connection with the gorilla troop and his identity struggles between his human origins and gorilla family.

  6. Amy - The talking gorilla from the movie "Congo," who communicates through a special glove that translates her sign language into speech. Amy's character adds a unique element to the story, centred around an expedition to the Congo.

  7. Zaius -From the original "Planet of the Apes" films, Dr. Zaius serves as both a governmental and religious leader who knows the truth about human civilisation's past. His complex character deals with themes of science, belief, and morality.

  8. Bubbles - Bubbles was a chimpanzee owned by Michael Jackson, who became famous as the singer's companion. Acquired by Jackson in the early 1980s when the chimpanzee was just a baby, Bubbles frequently appeared with the pop star, accompanying him on tours, in music videos, and during public appearances. The chimpanzee lived at Jackson's Neverland Ranch for several years.

  9. Cheeta - Cheeta is one of the most famous chimpanzees in Hollywood history, known for appearing in the Tarzan films of the 1930s and 1940s. Cheeta often provided comic relief in the adventure films, engaging in playful antics that endeared him to audiences.

  10. Ivan - From the One and Only Ivan, a thoughtful and artistic gorilla who comes to terms with his past and seeks a better future for himself and his animal friends.

  11. Koko - The sign-language-using gorilla.

  12. Gordo - Gordo, also known as "Old Reliable," was a squirrel monkey who played a significant role in the early stages of the U.S. space program. He was one of the first animals sent into space by the United States as part of the effort to determine the feasibility of human spaceflight.

  13. Rafiki - Rafiki is a memorable character from Disney's 1994 animated film "The Lion King," his name means "friend" in Swahili, he is a wise and eccentric mandrill with a distinctive blue and red face and a long white mane.

  14. Clyde - Clyde was a prominent character from the 1978 action-comedy film "Every Which Way But Loose," starring Clint Eastwood.

  15. Ella - Ella is a central character from the 1988 horror film "Monkey Shines," directed by George A. Romero.

  16. Snowflake - the only known albino gorilla.

  17. Digit - Dian Fossey's studied gorilla.

  18. Copito - Another name for Snowflake the Albino Gorilla.

  19. Magilla - Magilla Gorilla is a fictional character from the classic animated television series "The Magilla Gorilla Show," which was created by Hanna-Barbera and first aired in 1964. Magilla Gorilla is a friendly and lovable but somewhat clumsy gorilla who often finds himself in various comedic mishaps.

  20. Ape - Ape is a character from the movie "George of the Jungle," which is a live-action film adaptation of the animated television series of the same name.

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We hope you've enjoyed this journey through the intriguing world of famous gorillas and apes, from cinematic icons to real-life wonders. Each name on our list not only celebrates their remarkable stories but also inspires us to appreciate these magnificent creatures even more.

4 Giant Bears Gorillas sculptures in a modern home

At Giant Bears, we capture the spirit of these legends in every sculpture we craft. Made with meticulous attention to detail, our UK-made, high-quality resin gorilla sculptures are perfect for anyone looking to add a touch of wildlife majesty to their home or office.

Explore our diverse collection today and find the perfect gorilla sculpture to name and call your own. Visit our website to start your journey with a new giant companion!

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