Ōzaru — the Great Ape raising funds for mountain gorillas

What does "Ōzaru" mean?

Over the last 15+ years, we've raised over GBP 10,000 for mountain gorillas, in various 'creative' ways, as shown on this page. Many thanks to all those who have supported these efforts. I hope you continue to support the Great Apes — after all, consider the following:

Figures showing how losing one gorilla is equivalent to losing 7.8 million humans


Due to the KCL issues etc. in 2018, the Great Gorilla Run has been in abeyance since then — so nothing in 2019 (I supported Mr Gorilla instead). This year, I did the "2.6 challenge" combined with the "Virtual Inca Trail", and also made a new parody video — see below. Lots of links beneath it on the YouTube page, too.

In addition, the "Gorilla violinist/violist" appeared in various 'lockdown' videos, as below:

But despite these efforts, support this year was really poor, as seen on my Just Giving 2020 page. I've therefore decided it makes more sense simply to spend my time working, and donate cash directly myself to the organizations below, via DonateToPrimate, #GivingDayForApes, #WorldGorillaDay, #GivingTuesday, theBigGive Christmas Challenge, and so on.

I also support these charities via simple no-extra-cost measures, such as: Give with Bing, Smile.Amazon, and by buying coffee from Gorilla Conservation Coffee and booze from Gorilla Spirits. Every little bit helps, and these are simple measures anyone could take.


I registered so swiftly this year that I finally got the "no.1" tabard, as shown below! Kind sponsors got me close to my target too… that is after all the whole point of the exercise. There has been mixed news about the gorilla situation, but the conservation efforts are definitely having a positive impact so we need to keep it up. :-)

Meanwhile, here's our new parody video. One of the previous ones above has been viewed over 15,000 times… but didn't result in $150,000 in donations (yet) so we tried to make the point a bit more obvious this time round.

Here's a photo of me with the legendary Mr Gorilla and his wonderful mini-gorillas, sharing an umbrella shortly before the start of GGR2018. Mr G is well known for crawling the 2017 London Marathon on his knuckles (raising nearly £50,000). But he's also swum the Thames, handcycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, and just the day before GGR2018, swum the Serpentine. All in a gorilla costume of course!

With Mr Gorilla

The run itself this year was wetter than ever — torrential rain in places, strong wind, deep puddles and slippery steps. Due to some apparent intransigence on the part of King's College, who seem to have reneged on various commitments, there were fewer runners and no clock to check times, but I'm fairly sure I did it in around one hour again, despite some muscular pain. Stupidly, I didn't 'wring out' my T-shirt and change quickly enough after the run, so ended up with a cold for a few weeks afterwards. Ah well, suffering for one's art… At least I didn't (this time) die on the run — a couple of weeks later, two young men died doing the Cardiff half marathon, and the thought's always in the back of your mind.

Another event attracted my attention this year: the Giving Day for Apes. Americans do stuff on a different scale — in a day, this raised over US$550,000 for numerous different Great Ape sanctuaries and the like! I donated to GRACE — partly because I'd 'borrowed' a small part of one of their videos for our own video above. There are some great gorilla videos here, in a playlist I compiled.


Yes, I successfully did this for the eighth time… with an even more elaborate costume — see my Just Giving 2017 page. This year I was honoured to win the trophy for 'best costume' (a sort of samurai armour, complete with 'sashimono' flag).

Samurai Gorilla Ozaru

There are lots of other pictures and other links here (originally compiled as part of the press release last year).


We're back! On 17 September 2016 I took part in the Great Gorilla Run for the seventh time, to raise money for The Gorilla Organization, following on from previous years as shown below. As shown on Just Giving, I far exceeded my target this time, and even won a small trophy for being top individual fundraiser! Gorillas are still critically endangered (indeed, all four subspecies are now critically endangered), and the tense political situation and social factors affecting their habitat leave absolutely no room for complacency, so the numerous donations are very much appreciated.

Read our press release about this year's fundraising.

2011-15: we were unable to take part for several years, due to date clashes, moving house, and so on.


On 26 September 2010 we took part in the Great Gorilla Run for the sixth time. We sadly didn't reach our target but still raised significant funds, as shown on our Just Giving site.

2009: we were unable to take part this year due to a clash of dates.


On 27 September 2008 I took part in the Great Gorilla Run for the fifth time. Between us, Team Ōzaru managed to raise over £2000, although the funds raised are now shown on individual rather than team pages so www.justgiving.com/ozaru2008 only gives the results for myself and Noriko.

Our generous corporate sponsors this year included SOFTtalk Translations (for the fifth year!) and spit-fire creative, as well as the other usual suspects. We made a second YouTube video, as a parody of the Wombles' famous theme song.

There was some good coverage on the BBC, with our orange & green T-shirts quite prominent.

Gorilla violist


On 22 September 2007 I took part in the Great Gorilla Run for the fourth time. Between us, Team Ōzaru managed to raise over £2400 (see www.justgiving.com/ozaru2007); the run as a whole raised over £250,000. It is certainly needed: although there had been some positive discoveries during the year (e.g. about the intelligence of gorillas being far higher than previously thought), there was also ample sad news: 10% of the Congolese mountain gorilla population were wiped out in a single day, and the lowland gorilla shot to the top of the critically endangered list.

Our generous corporate sponsors this year included:

… as well as the other usual suspects. The YouTube clip below was one our team made in response to the hugely popular Cadbury's 'Gorilla Drummer' advert that appeared shortly before the run (happily, Cadbury's did end up sponsoring the event).

There was some good coverage on CNN and lots of photos can be found on FlickR.

Gorilla Bruce Lee


On 24 September 2006 I took part in the Great Gorilla Run for the third time, to raise money for The Gorilla Organization (formerly the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund). As always, it was great fun — for an idea of the atmosphere, see the Great Gorilla Run 2006 group on Flickr.

Again, I managed to exceed previous targets: thanks to a team effort we raised over £2500 (see www.justgiving.com/ozaru2006).

Thanks in particular to the following generous corporate sponsors:

… as well as the usual help from JNet, Thanet Light Orchestra, St Nicholas-at-Wade villagers, Bujinkan Dojo martial artists and countless other friends, relations and colleagues.


On 25 September 2005 I again took part in the Great Gorilla Run to raise money for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. I set myself various targets to beat: a team total of £1300, a personal total of £1000 and a time of 1 hour.

Despite having put in a couple of days' practice this time (OK, from January 1 to about January 6!), it was no easier than last year; in fact I found it quite hard, particularly the lack of oxygen inside the mask. It didn't help to know that four men who seemed fitter than me had died on the previous week's Great Northern Run.

Nevertheless, it was great fun — particularly the huge variety of gorilla-based costumes (see photos below and here). When I staggered over the line at the end, I had narrowly managed to beat the time I'd set myself — the clock showed 59 minutes 32 seconds. Not the fastest, but not the slowest either. I bet that given a combined figure based on 'age * weight / time', I'd have been in the top ten at least!

At the beginning Around 800 Gorillas in fancy dress prepare to start running at the London Underwriting Centre

En route A 'silverbeard'? Or a new species, the Bearded Gorilla? ;-)

At the end Suitable refreshments were available at the finishing line to inspire a final spurt

I raised £1358.81 myself (see www.justgiving.com/ozaru2005), which in December 2005 made me the highest solo fundraiser, while our team accomplishment of £1715.26 was the highest level by a 3-person team. Next year I would like to improve on all of these figures, particularly by encouraging more friends to take part. It was a shame that many friends who had said they would join me this year were eventually unable to take part, partly due to the run rapidly becoming over-subscribed. Annette, Bev, Budgie, Charlie, Gary, Katie, Luca, Patrick, Rob, Seb & Tony — all said they would enter early for 2006 (although only two eventually did). FWIW, those across the pond might find it easier to join the Denver Gorilla Run or similar events in San Francisco etc.)

Thanks in particular to the following generous corporate sponsors:

… as well as…

Incidentally, there's food for thought on the LiveScience site, which says that running helped humans evolve from apes.


On 19 September 2004, I and three friends took part in the Great Gorilla Run to raise money for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund [this was in unified DFGF days at dianfossey.org, before in November 2006 it was renamed into The Gorilla Organization = gorillas.org and the US branch became The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International = gorillafund.org]. I was number 364 out of a total of nearly 650 runners, all dressed in full gorilla suits, personalized in a wonderful variety of imaginative ways (more photos were here but are no longer online). The weather was clear but not too hot, and once I'd pinned back my eyes(!) for visibility and widened my nose holes, it was nowhere near as uncomfortable as I'd feared, although I did end up dripping in sweat. The 7 km route took us past most of the famous London landmarks (Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, St Paul's, etc.) including four bridges, whose steps were quite hard to negotiate. En route many people cheered us on, although it was sad to hear one young mother tell a slightly anxious child not to worry as 'the monkeys will be going back to their cages soon', as though that was where great apes belonged. We eventually completed the run in around an hour. Not bad, considering that my only preparation had been a similar run (my first since school!) the day before…

At the beginning Posing at the start

En route Ninja Gorilla runners

At the end Hot & sweaty afterwards

In total I raised £988.18 in sponsorship (the site at www.justgiving.com/ozaru was frozen before I'd collected all of the offline money). Thanks should go in particular to the following:

Overall the Great Gorilla Runs have raised over £2,200,000 (c. US$4 million) for the gorillas — a fabulous figure, but just a drop in the ocean compared to the funds needed. Please do look at the TGO site to find out more about why the gorillas are in danger and other ways in which you could help.

Many thanks again to all who sponsored me, on behalf of the 650 700 800 1004 now at least 1068! mountain gorillas this was all in aid of.

In the jungle (picture courtesy of The Gorilla Organization, used with permission)