Shabani the Gorilla
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Shabani is the name of a silverback gorilla who currently resides at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan. In May 2015, the 18-year-old ape became a subject of an international idol and celebrity animal on the web, especially among young women in Japan, mainly for his apparent photogenicity and attractive facial features.
Shabani was born at Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands in October 1996. Two months later, in December that year, the newborn ape moved with his family to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, where he spent most of his formative years, before relocating again to Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan in 2007. In the following years, Shabani established himself as the protector of his pack and started his own family with two wives and fathered two children, according to the zoo officials.
However, the western lowland gorilla, who is in his late 30s or early 40s in human years, didn't rise to the status of a national sensation in Japan until March 2015, when a photograph of Shabani and one of his mates, Ai, taken by a visitor from a panel at the zoo went viral on the Internet. While the image was originally intended to highlight a fist-pumping gesture made by Ai, the focal point of online conversations quickly shifted to the male gorilla, as many Japanese Internet users on Twitter began obsessing over his strikingly photogenic appearance.
Between March and May 2015, Shabani's photogenic fame continued to gain traction in the Japanese social media under the hashtag-nickname #Ikemen (シャバーニ), or "good looking man," followed by several local news reports about the rising star and being cast as the official campaign model for the zoo's spring festival, which culminated with a notable appearance on the front page of a major web portal site. On May 23rd, YouTuber Masayuki Nishimura uploaded a video recording of Shabani resting in his enclave, which garnered more than 300,000 views in just over a month (shown below).
In June, Shabani's Internet stardom began to approach its peak as major Japanese news outlets like NHK and NTV jumped in on the media coverage, while the volume of complimentary tweets about the ape continued to grow manifolds, mostly from young female zoo-goers swooning over the ape's good looks.
click through the thumbnail to see the translated caption in English
As a result of the viral fandom surrounding the animal, Higashiyama Zoo has reportedly seen a sharp increase in number of daily visits, almost double the usual count by the officials' estimate, particularly among the young female demographic.
 Twitter – Search Results for #シャバーニ
 Chunichi Shimbun – 東山のイケメンゴリラ、もてすぎ ネットで話題「シャバーニ」
 RocketNews24 – Zoo reports increase in visitors as Japan’s women fall for this “handsome” gorilla【Photos】
 Vine – Meet Shabani
 Instagram – @Costona22's Photo
 BBC – Shabani: The making of a metrosexual gorilla
 BuzzFeed – This Gorilla Is So Handsome, Women Are Flocking To The Zoo To See Him
 The Daily Mail – The 'handsome gorilla' driving Japanese girls mad
 MTV – Women In Japan Are Freaking Out Over This ‘Sexy’ Gorilla Named Shabani
 Mashable – People are losing their cool over this hot, meme-worthy gorilla
 CNN – Japanese women go ape over surprisingly handsome gorilla
 Metro UK – This gorilla is so hot women are flocking to the zoo to see him
 The Smithsonian – Move Over, Clooney: This Japanese Gorilla is the Internet’s Newest Heartthrob
 Discovery – Hunky Gorilla Makes Women at Japan Zoo Go Ape
 The Japan Times – Good-looking gorilla has crowds going gaga at Higashiyama Zoo
 Gawker – Can You Tell the Sexy Gorilla From a Normal Garbage Gorilla?
 The Huffington Post – Hunky Gorilla Has Female Fans Flocking To Japanese Zoo
 Uproxx – Why Are Women Freaking Out About This Very Hot and Flirty Gorilla?
 Death and Taxes – Women flock to Japanese zoo to see handsome gorilla
 The Telegraph – Japanese women go ape over 'handsome' gorilla named Shabani
 MSNBC – Meet the hunky gorilla taking over your timeline
Nate χ (Blade of Dawn)
Jun 30, 2015 at 08:44PM EDT
Jun 30, 2015 at 09:50PM EDT
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