As adorable as this video is, it’s important to remember that gorilla body language doesn’t always translate well to humans. What looks like a hand gesture to indicate, “Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left, oooh, swipe right,” could actually mean, “Give me that glowing rectangle so I can shove it up my butt and then put it in my mouth.” Gorillas may be intelligent, but they’re still wild animals. Swole animals with rippling muscles and jaws capable of crushing your skull like a Kinder surprise. That means miscommunications with a gorilla is more likely to send you to the hospital than HR. In one instance, it nearly cost a woman her life.
In 2007, the Netherlands voted for “bokitoproof” as their Word of the Year. Bokitoproof means “durable enough to resist the actions of an enraged gorilla.” If that sounds oddly specific, it’s because the word was coined after an event that occurred earlier in the year, when Bokito the gorilla went on a little adventure. A ligament-tearing adventure.
Bokito was once the resident of a Berlin zoo. Being an irascible scamp, he escaped his enclosure by climbing over a glass wall. Zookeepers returned him to his enclosure, and probably grounded him with no bananas or poop-sports for a week.
In 2005 he moved to the Rotterdam zoo in the Netherlands. Bokito, being a very comely gorilla, soon drew the attention of a human woman. The woman was a regular visitor who would touch the glass, lock eyes with Bokito, and smile. This would be a touching gesture between two lovers separated by prison visitation glass. But to Bokito, it felt like a creepy stalker kept showing up to his home and staring through the window while making menacing throat-cutting gestures. Gorillas perceive direct eye contact as threatening, and a “smile” as a gesture meaning, “I’m about to open up a can of 100% organic whoopass.”
The woman saw Bokito “smile” back at her, which she thought was a sign of their special bond. But in gorilla terms, it was Bokito ripping off his Ed Hardy shirt and yelling “Let’s go bruh!” And go bruh he went. In 2007, Bokito saw this lady one again smiling at him like a psycho. So he jumped over the moat in his enclosure, climbed out, and launched 400 pounds of hairy gorilla meat at the unsuspecting woman. She lived, but only after suffering bite wounds, bone fractures, and probably some purple nurples. Bokito lived as well, not suffering the fate of Harambe (so you can put your dicks away).
The moral of the story is to avoid humanizing gorillas. They’re smart creatures, but they have their own social code. Scratching your butt and offering your fingers for a friend to sniff is considered a war crime in our culture, but in gorilla society it’s a marriage proposal. Fortunately, we seem to be learning to live with our gorilla cousins, or at least, learning to profit from gorilla violence. Following the Bokito incident, a Dutch health insurance company produced thousands of “BokitoKijkers,” or “Bokito viewers.” They’re sort of like eclipse viewers, only instead of avoiding UV burns, they avoid the wrath of furious gorillas. The glasses had fake images of eyes looking up and away. It won advertisement awards, because there’s no better way to promote your insurance company than saying, “Remember when that woman was almost mauled to death by a gorilla? Here’s some funny glasses, buy our insurance!”