30 years ago, a little boy had fallen into a gorilla enclosure; to his surprise, he was protected by one of the gorillas. The giant, yet gentle, ape made sure that the others in the enclosure didn’t hurt him in any way at all. Now, he reveals how the incident took place and how it affected his life.
Levan Merritt says that when he fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Jersey Zoo in the year 1986, despite one of the gorillas turning into his savior, he had to deal with all the kids, who bullied him at school. He was named Tarzan and Gorilla Boy after the incident, due to which he couldn’t get really close to a lot of people at school.
When Levan was five years old, Jambo, the giant male silverback, helped him survive in his enclosure, even though he was completely knocked out and petrified. The footage of his encounter with the gorillas helped him impress Amanda, his beautiful wife-to-be. When she saw him surviving through the petrifying situation, she was deeply impressed by his courage and the love that he received from the ape.
Statue of Jambo by Ralph Brown at Durrell Wildlife Park
Even though the events could traumatize the little kid in Levan, he knew that his love for animals, including gorillas, could never be erased. In fact, he now wants to take Leo and Riley, his wonderful kids, to the famous zoo in Channel Islands.
The incident took place 30 years ago, but Levan recalls every tiny thing related to it. Stephen and Pauline, Levan’s parents, say that they still don’t forget to play the video on important family functions.
When Jambo died in the year 1992, Levan was invited to cut to ribbon for the installation of his bronze statue. This proves the kind of bond he shared with his angel ape!