Gargantua was captured in the Belgian Congo as a baby in 1929. En route to the states aboard a freighter, an intoxicated sailor threw nitric acid into the ape's face. He was nearly blinded and terribly disfigured.

Upon arrival in New York he was sold to an eccentric but sympathetic woman of means. She had plastic surgery performed on his facial injuries, which resulted in a permanent expression of seeming malevolence. After several years, he weighed 460 pounds and proved too much for her to handle. She sold him to The Ringling Brothers. He first appeared before the paying public in 1938.

Gargantua has been credited with saving the Ringling Brothers from bankruptcy. They exhibited him in a sealed glass case (which was air-conditioned and kept germs out), pulled around the circus ring on a carriage drawn by six white horses.

He was paired with a female a couple years later. She had something in common with him: she was raised by an affluent woman, but during afternoon tea she broke her owner's wrists. From Time Magazine, 1941:

M’Toto (a she-gorilla) met Gargantua (a he-gorilla) last week. Their cautious introduction took place out behind the machine shop at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s winter quarters in Sarasota, Fla. The two giant gorillas whom John Ringling North hopes to mate were wheeled up face to face in their separate cages. Attendants and newsmen watched. Scarfaced, 550-lb. Gargantua turned a curious look upon the first gorilla he had seen since he left Africa. Apparently he liked what he saw. He threw her a bouquet of celery tops. Uppishly, 438-lb. M’Toto tossed it back. He tried a head of lettuce. M’Toto shuffled coyly across her cage and played with her black & white kitten Principe. Gargantua sulked. To Circusman North so far was so good. Said he: “Gargantua is infatuated. Naturally M’Toto was modest and bashful.” When he is reasonably sure that they will not tear each other apart, he will let the couple share the same cage.

As is sadly the case with captive gorillas, he didn't actually develop any interest in her. Still, the circus capitalized on the relationship, promoting her as "Mrs. Gargantua" after a marriage ceremony.

Poor Gargantua passed away at the age of 20 in 1949 from multiple health problems due to poor care, leaving no heirs to his empire. His remains were donated to the Peabody Museum of Natural History in Connecticut, which displays his skull from time to time.

Just so you don't confuse him with another gorilla of the same name, we include this clip from Wonder Woman episode 6, creatively titled "Wonder Woman versus Gargantua":

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