More than a decade later, gorillas recognise their former masters

This article is more than 12 months old

Two Western lowland gorillas were released into the jungles of West Africa more than a decade ago.

Djalta and Bimms were among the dozens of gorillas raised by conservationist Damian Aspinall at the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, England.

Conservationist, Mr Damian Aspinall. Photo: Courtesy Aspinall Foundation/Facebook

He released them into the wild in 2003.

Mr Aspinall considers the animals part of his family, so his children became acquainted with them at an early age, reported The Dodo, an animal news website.

His eldest daughter, Tansy, was 18 months old when she met Djalta and Bimms, laying the foundation for a friendship that hasn't been forgotten.

Ms Tansy Aspinall was 18 months old when hen she met Djalta and Bimms​ Photo: Courtesy Aspinall Foundation/Facebook

Mr Aspinall and Ms Tansy, now 25, recently travelled to the dense forests of Gabon, Africa, which the gorillas now call home, to reunite with them.

"We looked for many hours on the river to find them, and then they appeared after hearing my calls," Mr Aspinall, 54, said in a recent video of the reunion.

"It's a privilege to go and see an animal that you've raised in captivity, you released, and you don't see for a few years, and then you find them in the forest and they greet you like long-lost brothers.

"I can see, the way they were playing with me, how pleased they were to see me. It was so gentle, the way they were playing."

He said he was not sure how the animals would respond to seeing his daughter because they were released to the wild more than 10 years ago.

But despite the long time gap, they seemed to recognise her.

Photo: Courtesy Aspinall Foundation/Facebook

Said Mr Aspinall: "As Tansy approached, I could hear gorilla gurgles, and I felt more and more confident that she would be accepted by them."

Ms Tansy admitted she was apprehensive about meeting the animals whom she had only known in captivity, though she soon found she was no stranger to them.

"It was amazing to see that not only did they know me, they also had such gentle looks on their faces that I felt immediately safe and reassured," Mail Online quoted her as saying.

Photo: Courtesy Aspinall Foundation/Facebook

"At no point did I feel fear."

"It was lovely to see Tansy with her old friends," her father said.

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