Gorillas are truly exquisite animals, and they’re known for their superb intelligence. Despite that fact—or perhaps because of it—they’re not usually considered good animals to keep as pets.

John Daniel the gorilla initially appeared to be quite a bit different. He was lovable, well-behaved, and he even displayed excellent table manners.

Yet, due to forces that were out of his control, something terrible was about to happen. When it did, it shined a light on just how horribly animals could be treated.

There once was a young gorilla named John Daniel whose parents were killed by French soldiers in Gabon in Central Africa. In 1917, John Daniel was taken to Uley, England, where he was sold to a man named Rupert Penny for 300 pounds. That would be $30,000 in today’s economy!

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John Daniel wasn’t only named like a human—he acted like one. He lived with Rupert’s sister, Alice, and she brought him up similarly to the way one would for a human child. He was a beloved member of the community and would walk with the children of the neighborhood. Sometimes they’d carry him around in a wheelbarrow. He loved to eat and drink, and enjoyed the occasional glass of cider. He had excellent table manners, and like any proper English person at the time, he enjoyed afternoon tea!

Sadly, when he grew older, things changed. Alice felt that she could no longer properly care for him, and in the hopes of finding him a better home, she sent him to the United States.

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Unfortunately, John Daniel was purchased by a circus ringmaster who treated him less like a human and more as a zoo attraction. The gorilla missed Alice dearly, and his health took a turn for the worse as he became withdrawn and lost his appetite. Alice heard about this and traveled to America, determined to take him back home.

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Tragically, it was too late. John Daniel had suffered from a lung infection and passed away in 1921. They preserved his body, which is still on display in a New York museum.

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As well as some animals may be treated by those who love them, this story just goes to show how quickly things can change in the wrong hands. John Daniel seemed like such a special gorilla, and he certainly deserved a better fate.

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