We love a day that lets us unleash our inner primate, even if it is in a suit(!) — and that’s why we are very excited about Gorilla Suit Day, which comes around on January 31 each year. This King Kong-sized day is meant to honor the monkey suits that are worn on Halloween, at costume parties, movies, and sometimes just for fun. So don your gorilla suit and join us for the celebrations.
History of Gorilla Suit Day
The very first suit was handmade in the 1920s by Carlos Cruz Gemora, a Hollywood make-up artist. His study of real gorillas from the San Diego Zoo coupled with his make-up expertise gave his suit authenticity.
Before Gemora’s gorilla suit, movies had a version, which was unfortunately not very close to the real thing. This was because Westerners had not laid eyes on this primate until the 1860s, and even then, this animal was something of a curiosity back in the early 20th century. This made the initial gorilla suits somewhat questionable representations of the real animal.
By the time Gemora’s realistic suit came around, the movie industry — and gorillas — were enjoying a lot of popularity. This went on for the next few decades, until the 1950s, when their scare factor went down.
An innovation came into existence — special effects. It turned the film world on its head. No longer were men in costumes required; computers could take care of it all. A few followers of the good old times — Rick Baker, for instance — kept the gorilla suit alive. Baker kept away from special effects and illusions, using the gorilla suit instead to appear in movies like “Schlock,” and “The Thing With Two Heads.”
In 1963, one of “MAD” magazine’s ‘Maddest Artists’, Don Martin, wrote a 56-page comic about a character mocking the then-fictitious Gorilla Suit holiday. This character is then assaulted by gorillas and people in gorilla suits, in trademark “MAD” magazine’s absurdly hilarious style. This paperback was called “Don Martin Bounces Back,” and although the book itself is out of print, the holiday lives on through Don Martin fans. They get together with fans of “MAD” magazine to celebrate this unofficial holiday in memory of the artist and the suits themselves.
Gorilla Suit Day timeline
“Overland Monthly” magazine features a short story by a Mr. Noah Brooks called ‘Mr. Columbus Coriander's Gorilla;’ the story tells the tale of a young menagerie employee who dresses in a gorilla suit for his job.
In one of the very first appearances on the screen, an uncredited actor wears an ape suit for the silent movie, “Tarzan of the Apes.”
Gorilla Gram Inc. trademarks the ‘Gorilla-Gram,’ which works like a singing telegram, except the performer wears a gorilla suit.
After resigning, Boston Red Sox manager Theo Epstein wears a gorilla suit to dodge reporters while leaving Fenway Park.
Gorilla Suit Day FAQs
How heavy is a gorilla suit?
According to Walmart, one full-size (adult) male gorilla costume weighs approximately 4.45 pounds (only product weight).
When was the first gorilla suit made?
Sources state the first gorilla suit made for films was created by Charlie Gemora for the 1925 film, “The Lost World.”
What day is Gorilla Day?
World Gorilla Day is celebrated each year on September 24. This day raises awareness about this critically endangered species and invites individuals and organizations around the world to celebrate these remarkable great apes.
Gorilla Suit Day Activities
Wear a gorilla suit
Gorilla suit aficionados, unite! Dust off your suit and head off for fun adventures (or gently prank someone in your family). Don't have a suit handy? Multiple stores sell these in adult and child sizes, with half suits (just the top or the face mask) available too.
Read the book that inspired it all
The book is not in print, but online bookstores might have the original paperback that featured the gorilla suit — “Don Martin Bounces Back.” You can even explore the rest of the 'Don Martin' series for more laughs.
Throw a jungle party
Let's be honest, not many people have gorilla suits in their closet. But they might have bunny ears, cat tails, and so on. So make like Tarzan and throw a jungle-themed party, with the gorilla making a special appearance. Host this 'wild' evening to celebrate the ending of the very first month of the year, and of course, Gorilla Suit Day!
5 Times Normal People Used Gorilla Suits
It dances with the stars
Bristol Palin wears a gorilla suit and performs to ‘Hey Hey We’re The Monkees,’ while on “Dancing with the Stars.”
A Guinness World Record category
The Denver Gorilla Run has won ‘Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Gorillas;’ it is an annual five-mile race that sees participants run in gorilla suits to raise money for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund.
The Phoenix Suns’ official mascot
Performer Henry Rojas was only hired to deliver a Gorilla-Gram at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but the audience liked him so much, ‘Go’ the gorilla became the Phoenix Suns’ official mascot, even after Rojas himself retired from the job.
A banana catches a gorilla
In 2011, in Strongsville, Ohio, a cell phone store mascot — in a gorilla suit — was tackled by a prankster dressed as a banana.
In Wisconsin in 2009, an unidentified woman in a gorilla suit raced through convenience stores and tried to steal Styrofoam bananas, unsuccessfully; this bandit soon disappeared and the raids were never repeated.
Why We Love Gorilla Suit Day
Gorillas are cool
They are beautiful animals, and exciting too. Wearing a gorilla suit reminds us of this fact.
We get to play Hollywood stars
Who hasn't dreamt of aping Kong's hair-raising climbs (albeit with more safety) or pretended to be Grodd for a minute? On Gorilla Suit Day, we actually get a chance to live out these dreams.
This day is goofy and fun
We need to make time for a little irrelevant fun too. This day presses all the right buttons.
Gorilla Suit Day dates