Chimp Rescued From Distressing Conditions Thanks Her Savior With A Powerful Gesture

Since the late 1950s, Dr. Jane Goodall has dedicated her life to understanding chimpanzees. Her founding of the Jane Goodall Institute—which helps chimpanzees across the globe—and hand in groundbreaking studies on primates has made her the world’s foremost chimpanzee expert. But it was in 2013 she experienced what she dubbed one of the most extraordinary moments of her life.

It started with a rescued primate named Wounda, who, by all accounts and observations, shouldn’t have been alive because of her wretched condition. She was just one of hundreds of apes the Goodall Foundation had tended to over the decades, and with a single action, she ensured Dr. Goodall would never forget her…

When it came to chimpanzees, Dr. Jane Goodall had seen just about everything—and this helped her achieve some pretty groundbreaking discoveries about primates. For instance, she found that they were capable of using tools the same way humans do. In 1977, she took her research one step further.

G Adventures

She founded the Jane Goodall Institute, an organization that protected, studied, and preserved chimpanzees across the globe. But not even the Institute could prepare Dr. Goodall for what happened to her one day.

Michael Nichols / National Geographic Creative

In the early-2010s, a branch of the Jane Goodall Institute located in the Republic of Congo welcomed a new ape into its fold: Wounda. When she arrived at the rehabilitation center, Wounda was fighting for her life.

Jane Goodall

Rescued from poachers who planned to butcher her as part of an illegal bushmeat trading racket, Wounda had suffered. She was bruised, battered, and malnourished. She couldn’t walk or feed herself. Even Dr. Goodall didn’t have much hope for the ape.

Jane Goodall

“When I saw the photographs of Wounda as she came to the sanctuary,” Dr. Goodall said, “I didn’t see how she could possibly have lived.” But she, along with the dedicated staff at the Institute, were certainly going to try to revitalize the ape…

Jane Goodall

To get Wounda—whose name meant “close to death”—into a healthy, stable state, Dr. Rebeca Atencia (left) performed groundbreaking surgeries on the struggling chimp that even Dr. Goodall had never seen before.

Jane Goodall

“Rebeca came rushing back to care for [Wounda],” Dr. Goodall said of the Institute’s executive director and veterinarian. She “did what I believe to be the first ever blood transfusion from chimp to chimp.” But still, there was work to be done…

Jane Goodall

The knowledgeable staff at the Jane Goodall Institute put Wounda through a rigorous rehab regimen. She’d been so weak that she had to learn to walk and feed herself again. Would she ever be fit enough for a normal life?

Jane Goodall

With hard work, effort, and a lot of love, Wounda gained strength and muscle, going from a malnourished 63 pounds to a healthier 110 pounds. Other chimpanzees helped her find happiness within a social group, too; for the first time ever, she had friends!

Jane Goodall

Because of Dr. Atencia and the people at the Jan Goodall Institute, Wounda recovered enough strength to leave the sanctuary. While she could could never be reintroduced into the wild, Dr. Goodall had created the perfect place for her to go…

The Institute had another sanctuary on Tchindzoulou Island; it was a monitored, natural environment where Dr. Goodall planned on releasing 50 to 60 rehabilitated chimpanzees. This was where she brought Wounda on June 20, 2013.

The team at the Institute transported Wounda via truck and boat to what would become her new home. Along the way, Dr. Goodall spoke softly to the ape and soothed her anxieties during the long trip. It was soon after that something incredible happened…

Jane Goodall

Neither Dr. Goodall nor Dr. Atencia were sure how the rehabilitated ape would act once she was free to head into the protected island forests. Even still, Wounda did something completely unexpected—and Dr. Goodall struggled to hold back tears.

Jane Goodall

With all the love in her primate heart, Wounda turned to Dr. Goodall, the woman whose organization was responsible for her rescue, and pulled her in for a hug. Truly, in this moment, human and animal were connected.

Jane Goodall

Dr. Goodall returned Wounda’s hug and, without a sound, the two held the embrace for some time. For everything she’d seen in her lifetime, Dr. Goodall called this moment one of the most extraordinary things to ever happen to her. And then?

Jane Goodall Institute of Canada / YouTube

Wounda trekked off into the heart of Tchindzoulou Island, the beautiful place she would be calling “home” from then on. Dr. Goodall watched her go. But Wounda’s story did not end there…

Jane Goodall

Dr. Goodall oversaw the release of more rehabilitated chimpanzees to join Wounda on Tchindzoulou. Eventually, more than 50 chimps were introduced to the island, and Wounda became the alpha female for a group of them.

Jane Goodall

While on the island, the birth control implants Wounda received at the Institute failed… and she gave birth to a beautiful baby chimpanzee whom was later named Hope! It was an astonishing feat for an ape who was not too long ago on her deathbed.

Jane Goodall

When asked about Wounda, Dr. Goodall was nothing but humble, claiming, “It was… entirely thanks to Rebeca [Atencia], that Wounda survived.” But it was also thanks to Dr. Goodall’s unwavering love and respect for chimpanzees that Wounda—and other chimps like her—received a second chance at life.

Jane Goodall

When you watch the video below, you’ll see even more of Dr. Jane Goodall and Wounda’s trip to Tchindzoulou Island. To witness the love between human and ape transcend species was nothing short of breathtaking.

It’s clear that Wounda knew that Dr. Jane Goodall was responsible for saving her life, and she wanted to thank her for it. What an emotional goodbye!

Share this wonderful story with your friends below!

Recommended From Honest To Paws

Stay up to date on the
latest trending stories!

like our facebook page!