Norix Ultra-Max chairs are built to withstand challenging environments like prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and shelters, but we never anticipated our furniture would be use-tested by a 400-lb Western Lowland gorilla.
Just recently, Norix Customer Care Department began receiving inquiries from individuals across the U.S. looking to purchase an Ultra-Max chair for the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside CA, near San Francisco. That is the home of the world’s most renowned gorilla, Koko. From the time she was a baby, Koko was taught American sign-language as a means of communicating with humans, and has amassed a vocabulary of more than 1,000 signs, and understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English. She has been the subject of many studies, documentaries, articles, and ongoing scientific debate.
The caring callers told us that the Ultra-Max chair is an item on Koko’s Wish List, a series of supplies and “gorilla enrichment” items the California facility has requested to aid in the everyday housing and care of two adult gorillas; Koko and her mate Ndume. We went to the Gorilla Foundation website and sure enough, on the Koko Wish List under Gorilla Enrichment is a blue Ultra-Max chair for Ndume. A notation alongside states that Koko has a green chair.
Koko enjoying her green armless Ultra-Max chair. Left: Koko has settled in to watch TV, with her feet up on a Norix Slammer Stool. Right: Koko has arranged herself comfortably in her Ultra-Max chair so she can take a nap. (photos courtesy of Dr. Ron Cohn/Gorilla Foundation/koko.org)
We were curious where Koko got the green chair, after all our intensive-use furniture isn’t something you’d be able to pick-up at your local retailer. They are mainly specified by architects and purchased by facility managers. We were told that a visitor to the facility went online to search for a durable chair that was extra roomy and had a solid base, not legs.
Being a “civilized” gorilla, Koko uses furniture much the same way we do – for relaxing or watching TV. They also use their incredibly long and powerful arms to drag the chairs around with them like a human child would drag a doll. After enduring several months of gorilla wear-and-tear, the durable, rotationally-molded Ultra-Max chair has demonstrated it is indeed gorilla-tough, so the Foundation posted a request for a blue Ultra-Max chair for Ndume. According to his caretakers, Ndume wants a blue chair since blue is one of his favorite colors.
Ndume has a thing for chairs – specifically molded chairs, and also plastic barrels. In a recent post on the KokoBlog it talks about how attached Ndume is to his chairs and barrels – how he had his barrel with him on the flight when he left his home at the Cincinnati Zoo to come to California.
It’s not everyday that a that a furnishings manufacturer gets a free celebrity endorsement for its products, and as a company that manufactures furniture for intensive-use environments we couldn’t have asked for a better testament about the extreme durability of our Ultra-Max line.
It gives us great pleasure to help the Foundation with the gift of a Norix Ultra-Max chair for Ndume, and hope both he and Koko will enjoy them for years to come.
Note: If you are interested in helping the Gorilla Foundation, click here to link to their website and help donate to the Koko Wish List today! Be sure to share this post with others who are interested in the Gorilla Foundation and who also appreciate durable furniture!