Woman Paid The Price For Smiling At Gorilla In Enclosure

Woman Paid The Price For Smiling At Gorilla In Enclosure
YouTube/Wild Assault

In 2007, a harrowing incident occurred at the Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam when a gorilla named Bokito escaped his enclosure and attacked a regular zoo visitor. The woman, who had been making frequent eye contact and smiling at Bokito, suffered serious injuries as a result of the attack. This event serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of misinterpreting wildlife behavior and the importance of adhering to safety guidelines while interacting with animals in captivity.

Experts warn against making eye contact with gorillas, as they may perceive it as a challenge or threat. This behavior can provoke aggressive responses, as was the case with Bokito, who responded to perceived provocations by breaking out of his enclosure and attacking the woman. The incident not only resulted in physical injuries to her but also caused panic and additional injuries when Bokito entered a nearby restaurant.

The woman involved in the attack reportedly visited Bokito four times a week and had developed a habit of smiling and making eye contact with him, which she believed was reciprocated as friendly behavior. However, gorillas have complex social cues that can be easily misunderstood by humans. Direct eye contact, especially, is considered a hostile act among gorillas, which can trigger them to defend themselves and their territory.

This incident underscores the critical need for public education on how to safely interact with animals, particularly in settings like zoos where people might feel a false sense of security. It also highlights the broader ethical discussions about the captivity of wild animals and the environments in which they are kept, emphasizing the need for proper barriers and safety measures to protect both the animals and visitors.

The story of Bokito’s attack is a powerful reminder of the unpredictability of wild animals and the consequences of ignoring professional advice regarding animal interactions. It’s a call to respect the boundaries and natural behaviors of wildlife, reinforcing the message that while animals in zoos can be observed from a safe distance, they are not pets and should not be treated as such.