People who work in wildlife conservation come from all walks of life. One such person is Damien Aspinall, an English businessman, and casino tycoon. In addition to his financial aspirations, Aspinall has a distinct love for animals and loves to help them through the Aspinall Foundation.
A video of Aspinall’s encounter with a gorilla he had helped raise was the subject of a viral video.
A story of two friends
The story involves Aspinall and a gorilla named Kwibi. Aspinall had hand-raised Kwibi from a young age as a part of his organization’s efforts to breed and return gorillas and other animals into the wilds from their native countries.
Aspinall goes in search of Kwibi
Five years after Kwibi’s release into a preserve in Gabon, West Africa, Aspinall decided he wanted to check in on him and see how he was doing. But first, Aspinall had to find him in the jungles of Gabon. He hoped that once he did find him, that Kwibi would remember him.
Aspinall was warned to stay away from his old friend
Kwibi had attacked the last two humans to encounter him in the wild. Because of this, everyone warned Aspinall to abandon his search. Better to play it safe. Of course, Aspinall was dissuaded and began a search of the Gabon area for his old friend.
Searching the preserve for Kwibi
For days, Aspinall searched the region for Kwibi, calling out to him as he did. Finally, after a few days, Kwibi emerged from the forest along the river bank.
Unsure what was going to happen, Aspinall approached Kwibi.
“The moment I heard the gurgle — gorillas have a gurgle, and it’s a very deep love gurgle — I knew that I’d be OK,” Aspinall told TODAY. “Right at that moment, everything stopped. The sounds of the forest stopped and the sounds of the river stopped, and I was just captivated in that moment. He looked in my eyes with such intensity and such love.”
The two reconnect
As he came up to Kwibi, Aspinall sat with him in the undergrowth gently greeting each other. They reconnect, with Aspinall chewing on a leaf before extending it to Kwibi, who accepts it. Relieved, Aspinall is glad that Kwibi remembers him.
Kwibi even takes Aspinall into the jungle to meet his wives and children. Once he was sure that Kwibi remembered him, Aspinall still had to worry about the gorilla’s wives, who might not have been so accepting of his presence. Fortunately, everyone seemed to accept Aspinall.
A final farewell
Even after they parted, Kwibi continued to follow Aspinall’s boat downriver, watching throughout the night as the group made camp. The next morning, Kwibi was still there, and so with one last goodbye, he bid his old friend a final farewell.
For more of this sweet reunion and Kwibi’s reaction to Aspinall, watch the following video.
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