Twenty-two years ago conservation activist Damian Aspinall let his 18-month old girl play with a 300-pound gorilla. The potentially dangerous situation turned out to be kind of cute as the gorilla carries the toddler around like a little play doll.
The NY Daily News reports that the video was shot 22-years-ago at the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent. Aspinall said that he kept the video private because he feared a public backlash. Now that more than two decades have past, however, the conservation activist said that he wanted to release the video to show that gorillas can be very gentle creatures.
Aspinall has worked with and studied gorillas for decades and was confident that his daughter would not be harmed. Still, several people are criticizing the activist for putting his daughter in harm’s way.
Animal expert Jack Hanna said:
“These are wild animals. The word unpredictable is something that you could use.”
Hanna notes, however, that the Aspinall family has been working with gorillas for generations.
“John Aspinall and his son were accepted into part of that gorilla family. That’s something that is very rare.”
“The reality is that I was brought up with gorillas and my family was brought up with gorillas and if you’re accepted into the family then it really isn’t risky at all.”
The Aspinall Foundation works to return gorillas to the wild. You can read more about the foundation here.
Here’s the video from ABC News.
What do you think? Was Damian Aspinall crazy to let his daughter play with gorillas? Are gorillas really just gentle giants.
Here’s another video of Damian Aspinall reuniting with a wild gorilla he once worked with.