Gorillas are an endangered species in many parts of the world. In other parts, they don’t even live at all. New Zealand is one of those places that never had gorillas or any other type of ape living in it. Apart from, that is, one specific individual.
Two travellers heard myths of one such great ape, living in the wilds of the Kaimai Ranges above Waihi in the North Island of New Zealand. Legend had it that the gorilla had lived in the hills for many years, surviving on a unique diet of possums and ragwort. At one point he had purportedly befriended humans, but now in his old age he lived a solitary life inside a closet in an old house. Too old to swing through the trees, he now ate moths, not possums. Even so, he had a fearsome reputation.
The two travellers heard the stories of this fearsome gorilla, and went searching for him. After all, what could be more unique than a photo with a wild gorilla who lived in rural New Zealand? They arrived at the old farmhouse and began their investigations. Inspection quickly revealed an array of wildlife in the house, including a large black panther who normally preyed on passing farm dogs. The travellers evaded it, but they did not find the gorilla. The gorilla found them.
Upon opening a closet they were viciously assaulted (although they did manage to get a photograph of the legendary beast). Fortunately for them, they had recently taken a course in basic gorilla, and were able to communicate with the attacking ape. He wanted to be left alone, he said. He was a past-it primate, life had given him his share and now he was relegated to life in a cupboard – no other choice was open to him.
The travellers had an idea – what if he was to come with them? He could travel all around New Zealand, and see sights which he had only ever dreamed of. After some consideration (and negotiation regarding transportation and accommodation costs as he didn’t have much money in his bank account), they convinced him to come.
They helped the gorilla into the car – he had never been in a car before, and the travellers had to explain the concept of the seatbelt to him. Although he wasn’t happy, he did consent to having the seatbelt on, given that without it he would probably be arrested. One thing remained though… what was his name? One grunt resolved that question – his name was “Oohwie”.