This is an incredible story about the bond between humans and animals—even ones in the wild. (tip: fast forward to 58 seconds for dad’s encounter, then 2:12 for daughter’s.)
The Aspinall Foundation is a charity based in Kent, England that protects rare and endangered species by breeding and reintroducing them into the wild.
In 2013, Djalta and Bimms, two western lowland gorillas born at the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, were reintroduced into the forest in Gabon, West Africa.
Twelve years later, conservationist Damian Aspinall and his daughter Tansy—who was just 10 years old when Djalta and Bimm left the animal park—set out to find their old friends.
“We looked for many hours on the river to find them, and then they appeared after hearing my calls,” narrates Damian Aspinall in the video of the incredible encounter.
“I was a little nervous to meet them, I hadn’t seen Djalta and Bimms for many years and I wasn’t sure how they’d react,” says Aspinall.
But as soon as he went ashore, the gorillas immediately accepted him, starting to hug and play with him.
“It was fantastic to see the greeting I got. I felt such love from them,” he says, and notes that though they were born in captivity, they were now living completely in the wild and appeared very happy and healthy.
But what about Tansy?
At one point, Aspinall says he noticed Djalta was staring at Tansy, who was still watching from afar in the boat. He was surprised since she was just a little girl last time they saw each other.
“I was considering whether it was safe for Tansy come on land and see Djalta and Bimms,” says Aspinall. He wasn’t sure if they would accept her.
As amazing as the father’s encounter was, what happened to Tansy is one of the most heart-warming moments you’ll ever see.