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In the jungles of the Belgian Congo, a white man named Gunderson is being held prisoner by the Negrito tribe. While the tribe performs a ceremonial dance, Gunderson is freed by Dr. Gerig, an aging English scientist, who entrusts him with the diary of his deceased comrade, Dr. Friedrich Dierdoff. As Gunderson is fleeing, he sees an enormous albino gorilla attack and kill a native warrior and is shaken by the sight. Later, in a London hospital, anthropologist Dr. Peter Van Doorn shows explorer Sir Harry Bragdon the diary, which Gunderson, now delirious with jungle fever, brought safely back. After Van Doorn informs Sir Harry that entries in Dierdoff's diary prove that the while gorilla, or pongo, is man's "missing link," the nobleman volunteers to lead an expedition back to Africa. Accompanying Sir Harry are his daughter Pamela, his secretary, Clive Carswell, his servant Baxter, Van Doorn, guide Hans Kroegert, guard Jeffrey Bishop and Mumbo Jumbo, who oversees the native helpers. Soon after the group arrives in the jungle, Pamela persuades her father to make handsome Bishop her personal guard, much to the irritation of Carswell, who has longed desired her. Bishop, however, thinks Pamela is self-centered and accepts his new assignment grudgingly. Unknown to the expedition, they are being followed by the white gorilla, who keeps himself hidden in the bush. When the white men reach the village from which Gunderson escaped, they trade with the Negritos long enough to make contact with Dr. Gerig, who lives among them. The old anthropologist tells the group about how he and Dierdoff captured the white gorilla and conducted tests on him, which indicated intelligence far superior to a normal gorilla's. The wily ape broke out of his cage and killed Dierdoff, then disappeared into the jungle. In order to recapture the white gorilla, the expedition returns to Dierdoff's campsite, builds a trap, and plants the ape's favorite food as a lure. The white gorilla, who is attracted to the fair-haired Pamela, follows and sneaks into the fenced-in campsite. Pamela screams upon seeing him at her hut window, but the gorilla flees before anyone else spots him. Pamela then drops by Bishop's hut and flirts with him until he gives in and kisses her. The kiss is interrupted by a jealous Carswell, and the two men fight until Sir Harry steps in. Later, Kroegert reveals to Carswell his plans to steal the expedition's supplies and take off for a gold field with his men. Carswell agrees to join the mutiny on condition that Pamela goes with him, and after Kroegert ties up Sir Harry, Van Doorn, Baxter and Bishop, Pamela is forced at gunpoint to leave the camp. A few hours later, Bishop breaks free and reveals to the others that he is actually a member of the Rhodesian secret service and that Mumbo Jumbo is really Lt. Mudi of the Rhodesian police. Bishop explains that after members of another expedition led by Kroegert turned up murdered, Rhodesian officials assigned him and Mumbo Jumbo to go undercover and investigate. Kroegert, meanwhile, has reached the river leading out of the jungle, and Pamela and Carswell learn that he does not intend to leave any supplies for Sir Harry's group, as he had promised. Carswell protests Kroegert's action and, during the ensuing confrontation, Pamela takes off. Carswell pursues her and is shot by Kroegert. When Kroegert goes after Pamela, he is attacked by the white gorilla, who flees with an unconscious Pamela under his arm. Later, Mumbo Jumbo tells Sir Harry about Pamela's abduction, and the white men follow the ape's tracks into the jungle. Pamela, meanwhile, revives and finds herself in the ape's cave home. While the gorilla is scaring off a curious lion, Pamela sneaks off, but is soon recaptured. At that moment, however, a large black gorilla challenges the white ape to a fight. During the battle, Sir Harry and Bishop arrive and grab Pamela. After the white gorilla vanquishes the black ape, Bishop wounds the white gorilla and cages him. Later, as the ape is readied for shipment back to London, where Van Doorn intends to establish him as the missing link, Pamela and Bishop enjoy a passionate kiss.