Gorillas have been called many things but “handsome” hasn’t often made the list… until now, that is. Meet Shabani, a suave silverback who’s provoking primal urges in the hearts of Japanese women. The so-called George Clooney of knuckle-dragging primates has even reached “ikimen” status, the term meaning “good-looking man” in Japanese. One wonders what Japanese men must feel about Shabani’s intense animal magnetism.
Though he’s adored by the ladies, Shabani has his male admirers as well. “He’s a very distinguished and sophisticated gorilla,” according to one ape-fan’s tweet. “The Gregory Peck of gorillas, if you will.” We will indeed, though the late Mr. Peck is sadly unavailable for comment.
Shabani is an 18-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla who grew up in an Australian zoo; he has resided at the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan since 2007. Western Lowland Gorillas have a 30-40 year lifespan in the wild and up to 60 years in captivity. Shabani exhibits the shiny black coat and a “macho brooding expression”, the latter attribute likely being the basis of his, ahem, broad appeal.
Once images of Shabani (especially those highlighting his deep, dark, sensitive eyes) taken by zoo visitors began appearing on the internet, they sparked a firestorm of viral appreciation. On Twitter, fans of the shy and sensitive primate have been shared thousands of times with comments such as “he’s too handsome!” being typical.