Gargantua the Great

Or: Buddy, the gorilla who was scared of lightning.

I came across a few photos of a lowland gorilla in a book about the history of the circus which piqued my interest. I’m a big fan of the primate you see (some being dearer to my heart than others) and I went searching the web to find out more. The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus billed him as “Gargantua The Great, the world’s most terrifying creature” but as it turns out a previous owner had dubbed him Buddy, short for Buddha, and he had a very sad past. Not only that but he was scared of lighting. What follows are a few brief notes on Buddy’s story and some related images.



A very moving story neatly told, Jaime. I feel so sorry for the gorilla and so ashamed of the humans mutilating and exhibiting him. The animal must have been frightfull, no doubt, but the idea of being injustly put in a cage is equally fearsome to me. If you really are into Great Apes, I hope you’ll pass some wild ones pictured in the equatorial forest where they belong. Besides, I like stories with apes as heroes, like in the movie ‘Planet of the apes’, a favourite, and in the english book, ‘Great Apes’ by Will Self.

posted on 06.05 at 03:21 PM.


Me too Laurent. Me-likey the apes. Never read “Great Apes” though I did like the ape-man cover illustration. Thanks for stopping by.

posted on 06.06 at 06:28 PMjmorrison


I remember him well…..and I didn’t think much of Wringling Brothers for doing what they did to that animal, caging him like that ......and now to find out he was someone’s pet really sickins me.  I wonder what happened to him.  They also got him a wife and displayed her.

posted on 09.14 at 04:27 PM.

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