CROWLEY – Annie “Shorty” Greer, a vivacious 93-year old and former resident of Crowley, has got a tale or two to tell. Recently, Greer made a trip from Houston, Texas to visit friends and family, with photos of the story she had told for years.
The most recent tale was of a gorilla that she and her husband, Charlie, captured on a French Equatorial African safari the couple took in the year 1951.
“This,” explained Greer, “was the most exciting and memorable of all the safaris Charlie and I took around the world.”
The purpose of the trip, which lasted six months, was to obtain animals for the Hermann Park Zoo of Houston.
As presumed, this story of what was to be the only live gorilla in the south, made many headlines. The Houston Chronicle newspaper sponsored a contest through which the gorilla was named. “Hugo”, which stood for Houston gorilla, was the name of choice.
Upon the Greers’ return to Houston, however, Hugo had other plans. He had become so attached to her that she feared “he would grieve for her if suddenly abandoned to the stares of the curious .”
So began the interesting life in the Greer household, who, aside from raising their own daughter, Mary Adelle, had now adopted this famous gorilla.
Until the age of five, Hugo resided in the Greer home. After he became larger, Hugo’s home consisted of a twelve foot wide cage that ran the length of the Greer home, with a building around it to protect him from the elements. His favorite foods consisted of steak, a gallon of milk per day, fruit, vitamins and Coca-Cola.
“We had some good times with Hugo around,” explained Mrs. Greer.
While flipping through photo albums and newspaper clippings, it was reported that this famous gorilla had a mischievous side also. Once, while shopping at the local supermarket, Mrs. Greer was surprised by Hugo when he somehow climbed out of the car window to find his lost “mother.”
Guest appearances on such acclaimed shows as “What’s My Line?”, “The Dave Garaway Show” and “I’ve Got a Secret” are just a few of the places where Hugo was the subject. All proceeds the family received as a result of Hugo’s fame were donated to Texas Children’s Hospital.
When asked if Hugo and their daughter, and sons, Carlos and Charles, got along, Mrs. Greer replied, “Hugo and Mary Adelle grew up together, while the boys were there toward the end of his life.”
Twenty-eight years later, the beloved Houston gorilla passed away from complications of pneumonia.
Many letters of condolence were received by the Greer family upon their loss.
A few years later, Mrs. Greer lost her husband. As she still resides in Houston, she is extremely proud of her three children, Mary Adelle, Carlos, and Charles.