Terkina (Terk for short) is the niece of Kala and Kerchak, the best friend and adoptive cousin of Tarzan and the tritagonist from the 1999 film Tarzan, its 2002 sequel, its 2001-2003 television series and its 2005 midquel.
She was voiced by Rosie O'Donnell as both a child and young adult in the first film, by April Winchell in the sequel television series, and by Audrey Wasilewski as a child in the midquel.
Terk loves the spotlight, and she is perfect "big sister" material because she's Tarzan's closest friend—protective, concerned, and absolutely convinced that Tarzan can't survive without her. Terk loves telling Tarzan what to do—that is, until Tarzan's physical strength proves he can hold her in a headlock instead. Even though Terk is a bit bossy at times, Tarzan knows it's because Terk cares, though she will never say so willingly. She is also the best friend of Tantor, who's neurotic persona often frustrates the ape to no end, though she truly values him as a friend and often takes advantage of him, selfishly.
Terk is first seen as an infant during "Two Worlds" where she is seen with her mother in a nest neighbouring the one inhabited by her aunt Kala, her uncle and leader Kerchak and their son. Following the death of Kala and Kerchak's son by a leopard named Sabor, Terk and the rest of her troop move to a safer place. She then sees Kala returning holding a human infant (which she rescued from Sabor, who had killed the child's parents), causing the other gorillas to notice Kala's return. As the other gorillas try to think of what to say about the child, Terk calls him "freaky-looking", to which she is scolded by her mother. Terk then asks Kala what she is holding is, to which Kala replies is a baby, before handing the child to Terk, who is annoyed at him playing with her hair, but eventually warms to him. She then asks where the baby's mother is, to which Kala replies she will be his mother now. Terk replies that the baby isn't bad once you get used to him. Just then, Kerchak arrives, causing Terk to hand the baby back to Kala and telling Kerchak that Kala is going to be the baby's mother. When Kerchak allows Kala to keep the baby, Terk asks what Kala will call the baby, to which Kala replies that she is thinking of calling him Tarzan. Afterwards, Terk is taken to her nest by her mother, much to Terk's annoyance. Terk is last seen as infant sleeping in her nest with her mother.
Terk is next seen a few years later as an older child where she is able to get Tarzan away from Kerchak after the boy runs into him. She then tells Tarzan that if he wants Kerchak to like him, stay away from him. Terk then starts to leave to play with her friends Flynt and Mungo, but Tarzan asks if he can join her, to which Terk says that he can if he can keep up, which Tarzan can not. Terk then meets with Flynt and Mungo, before Tarzan arrives, much to Flynt and Mungo's dismay. In an attempt to get Tarzan to leave them, Terk tells him to get an elephant hair. However, much to Terk's horror, Tarzan takes what she said literly and goes to a river where a herd of elephants are. He is noticed by a young elephant named Tantor, who mistakes him for a piranha. The other elephants show spot Tarzan and panic, causing a stampede.
After Tarzan is knocked unconcious during the stampede, a worried Terk tries to revive him. When Tarzan wakes up, Terk is at first happy, before berating Tarzan for nearly giving her a heart attack. However, Terk's annoyance turns to amazment when Tarzan shows her that he got an elephant hair. Just then, the other gorillas arrive and Terk tries to explain to Kala what had happened, just before Kerchak arrives demanding to know what had happend. Terk watches on as Tarzan admits responsibility for the stampede to which he is scolded by Kerchak.
Terk is last seen as a child during "Son of Man" where she is seen helping Tarzan climb a tree, playfighting with him (which Terk wins easily), riding a crane and is seen growing up with him and Tantor.
Terk is next seen as a young adult where she and Flynt are trying to fish out termites with sticks. Tantor uses his trunk to blow the termites out of the mounts. She is then seen play fighting with Tarzan, which he wins. Soon after, Terk and the other gorillas watch Kerchak battle Sabor, but he is overpowered. Tarzan comes to Kerchak's defence and kills Sabor. Terk, Kala and the other gorillas cheer Tarzan on. Just then, gunshots are heard, to which Terk, Tantor and the troop move deeper into the jungle whilst Tarzan goes to investigate the noise. Later, Terk, Tantor and several of the other gorillas go to look for Tarzan and come across a camp set up there by a group of humans from England, who are in the jungle to study gorillas. Terk and the others then start to play around with the objects there, just before Tarzan arrives. Terk sees Tarzan and has another play fight with him, before noticing a woman named Jane Porter there too. Tarzan is able to assure Terk that Jane is safe. Just then, Kerchak arrives with the rest of the troop and orders Terk, Tarzan, Tantor and the other gorillas to return to their nests as Jane's father Professor Archimedies Q. Porter and their guide Clayton start to arrive. Back home, Terk and the rest of the troop are ordered by Kerchak to stay away from the humans.
However, Tarzan continues to visit the humans, much to the worry of Terk and Kala. One day, Tarzan convinces Terk and Tantor to disguise themselves as Jane and Professor Porter in order to distract Kerchak whilst Tarzan shows the humans the gorillas. All goes well until Terk and Tantor accidentlly lead Kerchak back to the gorillas' nests. Kerchak tries to attack the humans, but Tarzan stops him, which results in Kerchak accusing Tarzan of betraying the troop. After Tarzan decides to go to England with Jane, Professor Porter and Clayton, Terk and Tantor attempt to bid him farewell, but arrive too late. When Tantor hears Tarzan crying from the humans' ship (due to Clayton turning against Tarzan and the Porters and has imprisoned them, before leaving to capture the gorillas to sell them in the black market), Terk doesn't want to do anything, to which an annoyed Tantor calls her out for her decision and takes Terk to swim to the ship to help Tarzan. Terk and Tantor are able to set free Tarzan and the Porters, before returning with them to save the gorillas from Clayton and his thugs. Terk manages to chase three thugs into a cage, before being confronted by another thug, only to be saved by Tantor.
After Clayton's death, Terk and the others watch on sadly as a dying Kerchak (who had been fatally shot by Clayton) finally accepts Tarzan as his son and makes him the new leader of the gorillas. The next day, the Porters start to leave the jungle to return to England, but decide to stay in the jungle with Tarzan and the gorillas.
Tarzan & Jane
In the animated sequel, Terk and Tantor join Jane in finding the perfect, one-year anniversary gift for Tarzan. As they do so, they reminisce of moments they've shared together in the jungle during the time period. Even so, their goal to find the perfect gift was futile, and they return to the treehouse to find Tarzan has thrown his own surprise party in honor of the occasion.
The Legend of Tarzan
In the TV series, Terk is a major character, appearing in most episodes, and is often the comic relief whilst the others often take more dramatic roles such as Tarzan, and even Tantor at times. She serves as the loud, humorous, big sister figure to both Tarzan and Jane, tagging along on most of the adventures, and often getting herself into comically painful situations in doing so.
In the episode "Tarzan and the Enemy Within", Terk falls in love with a male gorilla from a neighbouring troop named Gobu. In an attempt to impress him, Terk begins to act more lady-like. She returns to her usual tomboy self after Gobu tells her that he likes her the way she is. It seems however that the relationship did not last as Gobu is not seen or mentioned in later episodes.
In this prequel to the first movie Terk appeared as a kid to find Tarzan with Tantor to defeat the horrible monster (which would later turn out to be the mysterous ape Zugor).
- In the original Tarzan book, Terk is male and his full name was Terkoz . Unlike Disney's Terk (whose full name is Terkina), this Terk was enemies with Tarzan.
- The Disney version of Terk could possibly be based on Nkima, a monkey who was a friend of Tarzan in the Tarzan novels and several other media. She could also be based on Cheeta, a chimpanzee who was the sidekick of Tarzan in the 1930s-1960s Tarzan films.
- Terk was originally going to be male in the film, but was changed to female after Rosie O'Donnell's audition.
- In the Broadway stage musical adaption, Terk is made a male and is short for Terkoz, like his original book series' counterpart and is played by Chester Gregory.
- It is unknown if Terk and her mother are from Kala or Kerchak's side of the family. Though it is most likley the former as Terk is seen interacting with Kala more than with Kerchak.
- Terk's father is unknown. Though it is possible that he may have been Kerchak (who could also have been the father of Flynt, Mungo and the other young gorillas in the troop) as he was the only mature adult male in the troop and that in real life gorilla troops, only the silverback male can mate with the females. If this is true then this would make Terk not just the cousin, but also half-sister of Kerchak and Kala's son. Though there have been cases of silverbacks allowing other male gorillas to mate with the females. This could be the case for Terk as she calls Kerchak by his name rather than Dad or Father.
Other Animated Features