Max reaps rewards of courage under fire
July 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:59 p.m. EDT (0259 GMT)
(CNN) -- Max, South Africa's unlikeliest crime stopper, has gotten his due.
The Johannesburg Zoo this weekend threw a party for the gorilla hero, who won the admiration of crime haters and animal lovers everywhere when he tackled a robbery suspect and braved three .38-caliber bullets.
At the weekend festivities, the gorilla's admirers had a chance to buy Max paraphernalia and scope out the celebrity up close. As for the ape of honor, he celebrated with an ice block of fruit and vegetables.
Why all the fuss? Earlier this month Max made a monkey of a robbery suspect who had the poor judgment to try and hide in the cave where Max lives with his mate Lisa.
The man fired three shots at Max, two of which struck him in the chest, enraging the protective primate. Max got hold of the suspect and didn't let go until a policeman showed up and turned a fire extinguisher on him.
Max, however, had a hard time distinguishing between the good and bad guys and wound up biting a policeman's buttocks during the struggle. Max still has a bullet lodged in his chest, and the police officer is recovering well from the scuffle.
But the authorities don't hold any grudge. Thanks to the ape, after all, they got their man. He's now behind bars, a boost for Johannesburg's overworked and underpaid police force, which has been under fire for its low arrest rate.
And Max's courage under fire did not go unnoticed. Johannesburg police made the gorilla a reservist. As a token of their appreciation, they gave him a special
bullet-proof vest. Fit for a gorilla, of course.
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