WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — People who live in or frequently travel through Wake Forest may be familiar with the giant gorilla sitting off of South Main St.
The eight-foot gorilla stands outside of Hoy Auction, an auction house in the town, holding his hand out so people can sit in it for pictures.
However, it will soon leave its well known spot.
The business put the gorilla up for auction. That’s right — Magilla gorilla is for sale.
Come Sunday, the auction will close and the locally-famous primate will have a new home.
The listing has created a stir in the community, with Facebook posts and pleas to keep the gorilla in the town.
It has also raised a lot of questions. People want to know — Where did the gorilla come from? How long has he been in Wake Forest? Why is he now up for auction?
CBS 17 spoke with Jay Hoy, the owner of Hoy Auction, to find out.
The origin of the gorilla
Gorillas are native to equatorial Africa, but this one actually came from China.
It was originally brought to Wake Forest 10 years ago as ‘a big promotional thing,’ according to Jay Hoy.
Hoy said a friend of his, who brought in shipping containers from China at the time, delivered the gorilla to its famous spot.
Hoy’s goal was to use the gorilla to promote his business.
Little did he — and the gorilla — know, it would become a local celebrity.
The ape becomes a town staple
When it first arrived, Hoy held a contest to see who would name the gorilla.
He was shocked to receive significantly more entries than he expected.
The winner, who Hoy said named the gorilla ‘Cousin Louie’, received a $50 prize.
Eventually, Hoy said someone offered him money to buy the gorilla. He sold it and got another one from his friend to stand in its place.
Hoy said he has had different gorillas through the years.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, he even put a mask on the gorilla while people were trying to contain the spread of the virus.
The rest, is history… until the start of 2023.
‘Going once, going twice…(almost) sold!’
On Jan. 4, Jay Hoy put the gorilla up for auction. This time, he doesn’t plan to get another one.
He said a lot of people are asking him why he’s officially parting with it.
According to Hoy, there’s a few reasons.
The first — he said Mr. Gorilla is no longer beneficial for business.
Hoy used to hold his auctions in-person at the Hoy Auction location on South Main St.
Back then, he said the gorilla was great for business and brought lots of people in.
However, since moving his auctions online, Hoy said the gorilla doesn’t serve much of a purpose anymore.
Another reason is that Hoy Auction is moving, and the gorilla will not be coming along.
The business, which has been around for 47 years, will move to another building located on a property near the Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg.
As of Saturday afternoon, the highest bid for the beloved primate sat at $2,200 with 18 bidders.
By Sunday morning at about 6:45 a.m., it was up to $3,500 with 24 bidders.
Hoy Auction advertised him as an eight-foot tall, five-foot wide gorilla who has his hand out to sit for pictures.
The auction said about 20 people stop by each day to take a picture with it.
‘Time to move on,’ the listing reads.
The group category is listed as ‘miscellaneous’ (because how else would you categorize a giant gorilla?).
The auction is online only and is set to close on Sunday at 10 a.m.
It’s listed as a ‘soft close,’ which means the closing time will be extended by three minutes if a bid is placed within the last three minutes.
Safe travels, gorilla… wherever you’re headed.