Interview – Toto

Toto (or “Toto”) is a fictional character in the books, films, cartoons and video games based on the story of an orphaned baby gorilla who is raised and eventually abandoned, by humans. The name ‘Toto’ is taken from a Tanzanian proverb referring to a ‘poisonous snake’ that could only be killed by ‘poison’. The story was later immortalized in the movie, King Kong (19 Earthquake) where the king of Kong swallows the poisonous snake and thereby purifies it.


Toto was born in Wales, where he was protected by his foster father who took care of him, and later by his foster mother who died after giving birth to him. (It is interesting to note that he was actually given up for dead once but was saved by the US military during World War II.) When he was two years old, his foster father died and left him with his foster mother and a new family. Toto was separated from his brother Koba who went on to live on his own after getting captured by the Gestapo, and eventually Toto was returned to England where his brother remained behind.

Eventually Toto was trained to be a hunter by taking lessons at the local YMCA. However, he soon changed his mind when it became apparent that it was not his natural skill and that to become a good hunter he would have to become a great artist. At sixteen he went to St. John’s College, Cambridge to study art. While there he honed his drawing skills and also began to paint, eventually creating some of his best work while still in college. He then decided to enter the London Zoo to continue his studies.

As an adult, he worked as a translator and writer for various publishing companies including Macmillan, which became publisher of some of his most famous books including The Times of London. He married Princess Diana of Wales, which made him famous worldwide. He retired to Chartered Surveyor’s Office, a position which he had held since he was fifteen. As he did so he took on responsibility for the care of gorillas at the St. John’s hospital. This he accomplished by taking the job of Director of the gorillas’ enclosure at the zoo.

In an effort to see the gorillas in their natural habitat, Toto undertook the task of raising funds to build the biggest and most secure cage in history. Despite his inexperience, he was able to construct the cage using four hundred pieces of wood. The resulting masterpiece of gorilla care was named The Gorilla Forest and later Toto wanted to finish building a similar enclosure for the Asiatic gorilla, called The Nairobi Zoo.

In 1984 Toto received the Academy Award for his movie The Jungle. Although critically acclaimed, the film failed to do well at the box office and was widely criticized for being corny and dull. Nonetheless, it was later proven that Toto had created a world class icon in himself. Returning to films in the 1990s, The Lion King and The Posey were two of his last major successes. Since then he has appeared in numerous successful films including Tokyo Has Just opened and Hello Kitty and has also written or produced several television shows.