Some children can be quite the handful, but don’t complain about that to Damian Aspinall. Aspinall, a British conservationist and millionaire, raised a zoo-bred gorilla named Kwibi as his own son along with dozens of others. Years after releasing him back into the wild when he got too old for the sanctuary, Aspinall wanted to pay Kwibi a visit. However, in the five years since saying goodbye, the gorilla had become very aggressive towards humans. Despite this, Aspinall decided to continue with his reunion plans. He eventually located the dangerous gorilla, and what happened next was truly inspiring. Click trough to read their amazing story!
#12 Meet Damian Aspinall
Damian Aspinall is a British millionaire and conservationist. He made his fortune in the real estate business and has his father to thank for his own love for animals, especially gorillas. Damian’s father began an animal foundation that focuses on breeding gorillas and then returning them to the wild.
#11 The Foundation
John Aspinall first had the idea to open a zoo on his family estate. But soon, it turned into a sanctuary where animals were treated like family and could roam about the land freely. Over 100 gorillas have been born there and over 75 currently live there. When John died, his son took over and went on to release upwards of 50 into the wild.
#10 Meet Kwibi
One of the 50+ gorillas that Aspinall released into the wild of Africa was Kwibi. Aspinall grew up around the animals and loved them all, but there was something a little bit special about Kwibi. The two grew very close throughout Kwibi’s life and Damian treated him like a son.
#9 Releasing Kwibi Into The Wild
As he did with all of the gorillas, he raised Kwibi up until he was the age of five. The animals all lived on his family estate in England, but they simply couldn’t remain there forever. As part of the rehabilitation process, the animals must be returned to the wild in Africa, which is where Damian took Kwibi.
#8 The Destination
Thankfully, the land that Kwibi would go to was a protected area in Africa. Part of the Aspinall Foundation includes land in the forests of Gabon, and this is where the gorillas go to get acclimated with the wild. This provides a nice “middle ground” for the gorillas that are used to living in a completely protected and friendly environment.
#7 Closely Monitored
While the gorillas are given a new home across the world, they are not simply left there and forgotten about. The staff of the foundation provides the animals with food and medical care until they can survive on their own. Even Aspinall himself makes several visits a year to Gabon to check on the gorillas.
#6 Lost Gorilla
On one of those routine trips to Gabon, Aspinall was alerted that something was wrong. The staff was concerned that they have not seen Kwibi (who was now 10 years old) for quite a while and were curious as to where he could have gone. Aspinall decided to take matters into his own hands.
#5 Dangerous Task
He decided he would go on and locate the animal himself. While Apsinall is an expert on gorillas and has worked with the animal for most of his life, this was still a very dangerous mission. This is because it was rumored that Kwibi had been aggressive towards humans, which could spell disaster for Aspinall.
#4 First Sight
He along with a few others set off on the river to try and locate the lost and possibly dangerous gorilla. They were calling for the gorilla and keeping a watchful eye on the trees. After hours of searching for his old friend, Aspinall finally caught a glance of Kwibi from the trees, and the animal emerged.
#3 No Fear
Without even thinking twice, Aspinall climbed up out of the river and onto the land to go see his old friend. Despite the fact he raised Kwibi, there was the potential for danger here. That was over five years ago and the animal could have totally forgotten who Aspinall was.
#2 A Heartwarming Reunion
But much to the surprise of the staff present, Kwibi didn’t exhibit any of sort of aggression or hostility towards Aspinall. In fact, instead of screaming, he made a light purring noise, which Aspinall knew meant he was going to be okay. The gorilla was ecstatic to see the man that raised him.
#1 Old Friends
After the initial meeting, Aspinall decided to stay with Kwibi and play in the grass with his old friend. The two laid around, feeding leaves to each other. Kwibi even introduced Aspinall to other gorillas in the area. This was truly a one of a kind experience for Aspinall and one that he will surely never forget.
A story that could have ended with terrible heartbreak and violence instead ended in the most beautiful way possible. When Damian Aspinall found out about the fact that Kwibi had gone missing, he could have easily just forgotten about him. Instead, the man with an extremely deep love for the animal set out in the jungle to find him. Dealing with wild animals (even as a professional) is a very risky task. Despite the fact he was now a wild gorilla who could survive on his own, Kwibi never forgot the man who raised him, which is a truly beautiful thing.