John Daniel (Gorilla)

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John Daniel was a western lowland gorilla who grew up in an English village community from 1918 . Growing up, he was sold to America, where he fell ill and died.


The young gorilla was bought in 1917 in London's Derry & Toms department store by British major Rupert Penny for £ 300 - around £ 25,000 today (2017). The major named the gorilla John Daniel. The mother of the monkey was shot by soldiers in what is now Gabon . The baby monkey had been captured and taken to England.

Penny left the gorilla to his sister, Alyce Cunningham, who raised him in the village of Uley , Gloucestershire ; she nicknamed him "Sultan". The young gorilla grew up in the village community. Photos show how he was out and about with the local children. In the gardens he ate roses, and in some houses he got cider, which he loved. He watched the work of the local cobbler with fascination. John Daniel had his own bedroom; he could turn on the light and use the toilet; he made his bed and helped wash up. Cunningham also took John Daniel to London, where she had an apartment on Sloane Street. Here he attended dinner parties and drank afternoon tea.

However, when the gorilla got too big after three years - it now weighed about 100 kg - Cunningham sold it to an American in 1921 for 1,000 guineas - just over £ 1,000. But instead of finding a home in Florida, as expected, John Daniel ended up at the Barnum & Bailey Circus , which also presented him in the then zoo at Madison Square Garden in New York . There John Daniel fell ill; it was believed to be recognized that he wanted his foster mother. When Cunningham was informed by the zoo, she immediately set off - by ship. However, John Daniel died of pneumonia before it arrived.

The body of the gorilla was given to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where it has remained prepared and stuffed to this day.

Local historian Margaret Groom documented the story of John Daniel with photos in a book on the history of the village of Uley, Notes from the Uley Archives .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Untold story of the English village that raised a gorilla as a boy that drank tea, made its bed and washed up . The Telegraph , January 26, 2017 (English)
  2. a b c d Mark Smith: The 'almost human' gorilla who drank tea and went to school . The Guardian , January 26, 2017 (English)
  3. a b Christoph Gunkel and Solveig Grothe: I'm a monkey, I want to get in here . Spiegel Online , January 29, 2017