Can Get-Away Reform a Cranky Gorilla?


Patrick, a 430-pound male gorilla that dislikes other gorillas but is comfortable around humans, is going to receive 6 months of a kind of gorilla therapy in hopes that he will learn to appreciate his own kind.

The regal 23-year-old silverback, a popular resident at the Dallas Zoo, will soon be moving to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. Patrick's plight went viral this week, with stories calling him "sexist," dangerous and in need of therapy.

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All of that is simply wrong, according to Laurie Holloway, director of communications and social media at the Dallas Zoological Society.

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"Patrick is a super cool dude who is remarkably personable, accommodating and highly intelligent," Holloway told Discovery News. "He can go wherever he wants to in his large exhibit, but he's usually out front interacting with visitors."

Just this week she was with him at a medical exam. Trainers previously taught Patrick to present various parts of his body in front of a screen so that a veterinarian could examine him.

Holloway said, "He spent at least 45 minutes standing in certain ways, touching parts of his body as instructed and more, and all with incredible patience. This is a very remarkable, smart gorilla."

Zoo-goers have even nicknamed him "Pensive Patrick" because he's often seen deep in thought…when he’s not admiring painted toenails and teaching teenaged bullies a lesson.

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Dallas Zoo visitor Carla Bethke shared that when her mom found out about Patrick's painted toenail fetish, "she promptly removed her shoe to show him her toes."

Yet another Dallas Zoo visitor, Christopher Morris, said he'll never forget how Patrick handled a group of teenagers.

"They were yelling at him and banging on the glass, and he just sat there with his back to them," Morris explained. "After about 5 minutes, they gave up and were discussing what animal they would bother next. That's when Patrick turned and banged back on the glass. I swear I saw one or two wet themselves as they fled."

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