More than a decade ago, Djalta and Bimms, two western lowland gorillas, were released into the jungles of West Africa after being raised by conservationist Damian Aspinall at the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent.
Aspinall’s oldest daughter, Tansy, was just 18 months old when she met Djalta and Bimms many years ago. The gorillas were so sweet and formed such a special bond with the Aspinall’s.
12 years later, Aspinall and his daughter traveled to the forests of Gabon, where Djalta and Bimms live, to reunite with them. They were unsure if the gorillas would even recognize or remember them, but they wanted to give it a shot.
“We looked for many hours on the river to find them, and then they appeared after hearing my calls,” says Aspinall, in a 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.”
And although Tansy is all grown up now, it seems like Djalta and Bimms still recognized her! The gorilla duo was very gentle and friendly and made the Aspinall’s feel safe and reassured.
The Aspinall’s have their own foundation called The Aspinall Foundation, which operates two wildlife parks in the UK and focuses on returning gorillas born in captivity to a life in the wild.
Watch the reunion in the video below: