Around 2007 when Shabani was 10 years old he gained fame in Japan when he was photographed walking on a rope. One of his caretakers had hung the rope there thinking they would want to play with it. But he never imagined that Shabani would actually want to walk on it. After a while the rest of the troop all learned to walk on the rope, but that is a story for a different page.
In 2015 was when Shabani’s fame really took off and he became known around the world. It started when some Japanese girls started posting pictures of Shabani on Twitter saying how handsome he was. In truth, Shabani is a very photogenic gorilla and would often be caught in pictures with a look typical of male models.
In Japan he was being called “Ikemen” which means “handsome guy”. But when the zoo mentioned that he is also a loving caring father to his 2 young children, the word “Ikumen” started to be used as well. “Ikumen” is “a hands-on dad who looks after his children”. The idea of a handsome male who is also a good father and husband is something that made women pay attention. Even if such male was of a different species all together.
News of this “handsome gorilla” soon spread across the world and was featured in articles in CNN, BBC, Telegraph UK, News.com.au, Daily Mail UK, and ET Online among others. He was compared (tongue in cheek) to actors such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
The zoo eventually had to copyright the name “Shabani” to protect their interests as he was being sought after by companies to feature him in their advertising.
Who knew that a gorilla could become a super model!