Meet Shabani, a handsome male gorilla that has managed to steal the hearts of young women all over Japan. He is fondly known as ‘ikimen’, a Japanese term for ‘good-looking man’, and some have even hailed him as the animal-world equivalent of George Clooney or Hugh Jackman!
Shabani, who grew up in an Australian zoo, has been living at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan, since 2007. The western lowland gorilla is blessed with a shiny black coat and a macho brooding expression that make him very photogenic. In fact, his photos have gone viral on Twitter, where fans have shared them thousands of times over with comments like: “he’s too handsome!”
According to BBC News, it’s the gorilla’s sensitive eyes that have captured the imagination of women all over Japan. Gorrillas are usually associated with “chest-thumping ferocity,” but Shabani is different. Women consider him to be not only ikimen, but also ‘ikumen’ – ‘a hands-on dad who looks after his children’. Shabani is like a dream-come-true for many busy working mothers in Japan, and he’s shaping up to be the perfect role model for Japanese men who are interested in impressing women!
Believe it or not most of the photos of Shabani posted on social media sites are tagged ‘hot’ or ‘handsome’. “I went to Higashiyama Zoo. This hot Shabani ikemen was certainly handsome,” one woman tweeted. “Shabani who is in Higashiyama Zoo is famous as the too handsome gorilla!” read a caption under one of his photographs.
Shabani is blissfully unaware of his massive Twitter following but senior zookeeper Allan Schmidt says that he’s used to having his pictures taken all the time. Just after he moved to Nagoya, he was photographed walking along a tightrope inside the zoo enclosure. Since then, he has always enjoyed the limelight.
Schmidt added that Shabani’s success doesn’t surprise him, because of the environment in which he grew up. Born in The Netherlands, he moved to Australia when he was a baby, where he lived with “a very stable father and mother.” As an adult, Shabani was moved to Japan to mate with three female gorillas, and has fathered two healthy male offspring.
— Kate Cunningham (@KateLCunningham) June 26, 2015
Another reason for Shabani’s massive popularity, as Schmidt points out, is because “the Japanese are crazy, the Japanese love their fads.” He added that most people consider the 18-year-old gorilla to be fairly dashing. Indeed, his photographs do carry a certain quality, as though he’s quite aware of the camera. No matter what he’s doing – flexing his muscles, playing with younger gorillas, or simply staring into the distance, his sensitive eyes always seem to ooze with sex appeal.
“He is more buff than most gorillas and he’s at his peak physically,” zoo spokesperson Takayuki Ishikawa told the media. “We’ve seen a rise in the number of female visitors – women say he’s very good-looking.” I suppose it won’t be too long before the dashing gorilla lands a few plum movie offers and endorsement deals.