Shabani the Handsome Gorilla

I kind of get it. I can see how you might think a silverback is sexy – they seem to be made entirely of muscle. But what do young Japenese women find so attractive about Shabani, the famous hunky gorilla of Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens?

It’s his brooding good looks, and the fact that he’s a loving dad. Two words keep coming out from all the social media associated with Shabani:

ikemen: It’s the Japanese slang for “handsome guy”. The word is a combination of “I-ke” (pronounced “ee-kay”), which is an abbreviation of a word meaning “cool” or just “good”, and “men” derived from the English.

Ikumen: Another slang word meaning “a hands-on dad who looks after his children” – “iku” being an abbreviation of the word “iku-ji” which means “raising children”.

This fascination with the ‘human-ness’ of this gorilla has shown that by examining the facial expressions of some animals we recognize deep cognition, striking sexuality and strong family relationships. This is not to anthropomorphize Shabani, but to attribute animal qualities to humans; zoomorphism, in the sense that personifying animals reminds us we are a highly evolved animal species.

“Thinking Deep Thoughts.”

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