The Sacred Scrolls

Zaius (APJ)

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Doctor Zaius
Zaius 1
Biographical information
Species Orangutan
Gender Male
Born Unknown
Died 3978[1]
Continuity Movies (APJ)
Actor Edward G. Robinson (screen test only)
Maurice Evans
First Appearance Planet of the Apes
Last Appearance Beneath the Planet of the Apes
To suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Why, man is a nuisance. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green veldts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It's a question of simian survival.
— Doctor Zaius

Zaius was an orangutan statesman who lived in Ape City during the latter half of the 40th century. He was a leading member of the Ape National Assembly, and served a dual role in ape society as Minister of Science in charge of advancing ape knowledge and also as Chief Defender of the Faith. He saw no contradiction between his two roles but in the end he chose to emphasize the blind faith of the ape religion and traditions over the scientific suggestions of the chimpanzees, preferring a stagnant, imperfect, faith-based ape culture that kept humans in check, to the open, scientific, human-curious one proposed by Cornelius and Zira's generation.

An ape of renowned piety, Zaius believed that the tenets of religion, and the theories of science worked interchangeably with one another without compromise. He was often found quoting from the Articles of Faith as set down by the Lawgiver, and documented in the Sacred Scrolls. Zaius was quick to point out that those who sought to counter sacred scripture were committing acts of scientific heresy – a crime that yielded severe consequences.

For all of his bluster however, Zaius was the keeper of a great secret. He was one of the few apes who knew the true origins of simian culture, as well as that of humans. While the Sacred Scrolls established the edict that apes evolved from man, Zaius knew that apes were once in fact subservient to man, and that humanity had created a "paradise" for themselves and destroyed it as well. Zaius knew what humans had once been and for fear of humans ever becoming strong enough to threaten the world again, he was determined that the great secret should stay just that, while the idea of an intelligent human (such as Taylor) threatening the balance of things frightened him deeply. Knowing the destruction that humanity (with the aid of technology) caused in its downfall, he didn't want even the possibility of a human resurgence. To end any doubts planted in the minds of apes and humans, Taylor had to be killed. At the end of Planet of the Apes, ambushed and held hostage by Taylor, Zaius agreed to let him go if he never returned to Ape City. However, Zaius then had Cornelius's archaeological findings (human artifacts, predating the Ape society) destroyed, and Cornelius and Zira arrested on heresy charges.


By Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius recalled how Zaius brought them to trial, but then moved for clemency on their behalf. When Zaius, haunted by the experience with Taylor, supported gorilla General Ursus in his crusade into the Forbidden Zone to wipe out the last remnants of mankind and claim the area for ape colonisation, he trusted Cornelius and Zira to continue his work. (In the novelization of Beneath, they instead began a revolt, once the gorilla army was gone.) Zaius met Taylor once more, in a showdown between the gorillas and a mutant human race living underground in the Zone. Taylor was trying to keep the mutant humans from activating a doomsday bomb, and was shot several times in the process by gorilla troops. Wounded and dying, Taylor begged Zaius to help him stop the bomb; when Zaius refused (declaring "Man is evil - capable of nothing but destruction!"), Taylor deliberately activated the bomb in his last moments, ironically realizing Zaius's worst fears, as the Earth was destroyed. During Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius related how he learned the truth about humans and apes from reading secret scrolls. Cornelius presumably had access to these while working for Dr. Zaius (or after his departure), or perhaps was granted access by Zaius as a consolation for the loss of his archaeological work.

Zaius had more of his backstory explored in Malibu Graphics' Planet of the Apes: Sins Of The Father, in which the truth about man's heritage was revealed to a young Zaius by his father Dr Augustus, Minister of Science; while in Within The Planet Of The Apes Zaius had to prevent Dr Garvon from revealing that secret to ape society. In UbiSoft/Fox Interactive’s 'Planet Of The Apes' GameBoy, Dr Zaius asks astronaut Ben to return to the underground mutant city to disarm the doomsday bomb they plan to use.


Young Zaius learns the truth in Sins of the Father

BOOM! Studios' series Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Exile on the Planet of the Apes and Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm covered the period before the first movie, with Zaius as one of the central characters. Here, Zaius became a member of the ape council alongside more senior members Councilor Quintessa and Councilor Tenebris. When Zaius began to learn about human history, Tenebris abducted him and took him to a human building, where he explained to him the necessity of keeping the great secret. Tenebris had Quintessa murdered before himself being assassinated. Zaius was then joined by Councilor Camila and Councilor Hadrias by the time he led an assault on the renegade General Aleron. At the time the Moon was destroyed by extremist mutants, Zaius' wife Siena was badly injured and their daughter Valentina died during childbirth. Zaius struggled to rebuild Ape City in the aftermath of the catastrophe, and though he seemed to ultimately succeed, Siena was murdered by a chimp supremacist.

In the 2011 novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, set during the events of Planet of the Apes, Zaius struggled with the burdens of keeping dangerous information from his people, which meant disposing of his old mentor Zao, who had been Minister of Science during the thirty-year interval between Augustus and Zaius. Here, his late wife was named Ambrosine and their grown-up children lived far away. He planned to frame Dr. Galen as the creator of the speaking human monsters Landon and Taylor, but after Galen's death he personally operated on Landon to permanently silence him.


  • See also: Zaius for a complete list of other articles that share this name.
  • This version of Dr. Zaius is exclusive to the continuity of the Arthur P. Jacobs films and their adaptations.
  • The role of Dr. Zaius was originally to be played by Edward G. Robinson, and indeed he portrayed Zaius in the 1966 screen-test alongside Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison and James Brolin. With two big name actors to attract investors, the test showed the more advanced ape society of Boulle's book but this proved unworkable. Robinson backed out around April 1967, weeks before filming began, when he realised he would be unable to endure the make-up process every day. His place was taken by Maurice Evans who created arguably the most iconic of the characters from the Apes series.
  • Apprentice makeup artist Ken Chase was assigned to transform Maurice Evans into 'Dr. Zaius'.[2]
  • Jack Barron also worked on Evans' 'Zaius' makeup on the original Apes movie.[3]
  • There were particular problems with the movement of Maurice Evans’ orangutan mouth appliance, and most of his filmed dialogue had to be 'looped': re-dubbed later in the studio as the actor viewed film of himself to match the pace of his own words.
  • Along with Kolp, Dr. Zaius is one of only two villains to appear in more than one Planet of the Apes film.


  • A humorous version of Dr. Zaius was featured in the 7th season episode of The Simpsons entitled "A Fish Called Selma". Zaius was one of many pastiche characters who appeared in a musical stage production of Planet of the Apes. A Dr. Zaius tribute song featured in the episode is sung to the tune of "Rock Me Amadeus", originally by pop-star Falco. Another song was where the musical lampooned the well-known infamous ending with a song called "You'll Never Make a Monkey out of Me", in which the Statue of Liberty appears, causing Troy McClure to sing "Oh my God, I was wrong, it was Earth all along", then speaks "I love you, Dr. Zaius". The spoof was featured in a 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes hosted by Roddy McDowall as an example of the Ape franchise's popularity.
  • The March, 1973 edition of Mad Magazine lampooned the Planet of the Apes franchise in issue #157. The character Dr. Zaius was re-named Dr. Zaydius.
  • In Reality Bites, TV producer Michael Grates (Ben Stiller) keeps a statuette of Dr. Zaius in his office, which Lelaina (Winona Ryder) damages during a visit.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Reverse Peephole", as Elaine and Puddy (who is wearing a large fur coat) enter Joe Mayo's apartment, Elaine introduces Puddy with the words "I think you know Dr. Zaius." She later throws the coat out a window saying, "Goodbye, Dr. Zaius."
  • The engineering security network at Boston University is named Zaius after Dr. Zaius. The Zaius security system is the "defender of all things engineering."
  • In the 1997 cult classic Rocketman, astronaut Fred Z. Randall refers affectionately to Ulysses, the chimpanzee who accompanies the crew to Mars, as "Little Doctor Zaius."
  • In a segment of the February 14, 2008 episode of Late Show with David Letterman, Lyle the Intern says to David Letterman, "Your loss, Dr. Zaius."
  • The character, Maurice in the 2011 Planet of the Apes reboot film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was named in honor of Doctor Zaius' actor, Maurice Evans.


External LinksEdit


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