Man Introduces His Wife To The Wild Gorilla He Raised And It Doesn’t Go As Planned At All

Gorillas are some of nature’s most majestic creatures. It could be our evolutionary similarities that make them so captivating to us, or maybe it’s their relationship with the natural world. Whatever the reason, gorillas and humans share a special bond.

That’s why preserving their habitats—and their populations—is so important. The Aspinall Foundation has worked for years to help make this possible for gorillas all over the world. After Damian Aspinall took a trip to Africa to visit two gorillas he rescued, he was eager to introduce them to his wife. But he had no idea what was about to happen when they finally met…

In June 2017, Damian Aspinall and his wife, Victoria, made the trip of a lifetime. As the chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, Damian was eager to introduce his wife to some of the gorillas he helped rescue and transfer to the Gorilla Protection Project in the Batéké Plateau National Park.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

In 2003, Damian had been a key part of the team that transported two male gorillas, Djalta and Ima, from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent back to the protection project sponsored by his foundation in Gabon. He formed a bond with those gorillas and was curious to see how life in the wild had changed them.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Damian was also eager to introduce Victoria to the two gorillas who made a major impact on him. Still, more than a decade had passed since Damian last saw the gorillas, and both he and Victoria were slightly trepidatious about how the encounter would play out…

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

In order to reach the site where the gorillas made their home, the Aspinalls had to travel down the Niari River for several hours. They knew that finding the gorillas would be a challenge, but they were up for it if it meant checking in on Damian’s beloved friends!

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Working with foundation staff and local trackers, the Aspinalls were able to get very close to the last known location of the gorillas. However, before they left their boat, they had another tool they could use to make sure they were in the right spot.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

The Aspinalls smartly brought a drone with them that they connected to Damian’s phone. Not only was he able to control it wirelessly, but he was also able to see through a camera on the drone. Before long, they’d found the gorillas’ current location!

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Djalta and Ima were, understandably, curious about the strange flying object that was invading in their space, but they didn’t seem too annoyed. If anything, they were fascinated, and this drew them out from the bush.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

When the Aspinalls arrived with their camera crew, the gorillas were even more intrigued. It was clear that they were thriving in the wild, but that didn’t mean they had turned their backs on the ways of man.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

The team safely returned the drone to the boat and then prepared to approach the gorillas. While the animals seemed relaxed, the team was careful to remember just how powerful and unpredictable wild gorillas can be.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Damian was the first member of the team to approach the two male gorillas. He made sure to stay on their level; he didn’t want them to think he was making any overt threats against them. Once the gorillas were comfortable in his presence, he encouraged his wife to wade closer to the shore.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

It’s hard to say for sure if the gorillas remembered Damian, but they certainly seemed to know their old friend quite well. They were slightly more wary with Victoria, who resumed her careful approach. She needed to move slowly if she wanted to gain their trust.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Once the gorillas both seemed to be more at ease in her presence, Victoria gradually crawled up onto the shore. She took care not to make any sudden movements or to startle the gorillas in any way. It was a tense but exciting moment…

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Once Victoria had settled in next to her husband, the gorillas couldn’t hide their true feelings anymore. They made their way over to Damian and Victoria, curious to examine their old friend’s wife… whether she was ready for it or not!

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

The gorillas suddenly barreled towards Victoria, but instead of knocking her to the ground or harming her, they leaned into her affectionately! It was like they knew how important she must be to Damian…

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Victoria wasn’t sure what to expect when the gorillas approached her, but it certainly wasn’t this! She couldn’t get over how gentle they were, even though they were intensely curious about her.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

As soon as the gorillas realized that Victoria was just as comfortable with them as they were with her, they wasted no time making her a part of their community. In fact, they treated her like one of their young, pulling her into their laps for cuddles!

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

It was clear that the two were forming a very special bond all their own. It was everything Victoria had dreamed of when she first set out on the trip with her husband, but she hadn’t dared hope that these dreams would come to fruition.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

For Damian, this was also a dream come true. Not only was he able to locate the gorillas that he helped care for, but he was able to introduce them to the woman who meant the most to him in the world.

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

The only thing the gorillas loved more than Victoria and Damian was Victoria’s hat! They grabbed it right off her head, and when they weren’t cuddling up to her, they each took turns trying on the hat for size!

The Aspinall Foundation / YouTube

Moments like this are hard to come by, so when humans and wild animals connect on such a level, we must embrace it. Just ask Gilberto ‘Chito’ Shedden.

Though a typical farmer and fisherman in Siqquires, Costa Rica, Chito also had a flair for showmanship, which brought him to sometimes give tours of the province.

In 1989, Chito was strolling along the banks of the Reventazón River. It was a peaceful day, but little did he realize that danger was lurking nearby.

He locked eyes with a fully-grown male crocodile, a fierce hunter with an iron jaw who wouldn’t shirk from going after humans from time to time. Was Chito the featured special on today’s menu?

Strangely, the croc didn’t move an inch. Chito overcame his initial dread and inspected the beast. On top of being fairly underweight, it was suffering from a serious head injury.

It appeared that someone shot the reptile in the head and left it for dead. It was most likely a cattle rancher trying to defend his herd from predators.

The crocodile didn’t appear the least bit hostile. Out of compassion, Chito loaded it into his boat and brought him home. His family wasn’t exactly thrilled, of course.

But Chito was determined to earn this beast’s trust. Whenever he got a chance, he went out to feed it fish and chicken, while also trying to get it used to petting and human contact.

Before too long, the crocodile became completely healthy and docile. Chito named it Pocho, after the Costa Rican term for ‘strong.’ They were practically inseparable.

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He even managed to get his wife and daughter to warm up to Pocho by sticking his arms inside its mouth. It would be crazy to do with any other crocodile, but Pocho wouldn’t hurt a fly.

How was this possible? A nature photographer who met Pocho theorized that the head wound damaged the part of his brain that makes crocodiles aggressive toward other animals.

As Chito continued to train Pocho, word got out about the fisherman with the friendly pet crocodile. More and more people wanted to see it, but Chito was afraid of getting in trouble with the law.

Chito did the responsible thing and obtained a permit from the police to become Pocho’s legal guardian. That had to be the most interesting paperwork the office filled out that day!

Flickr / Doug Morris

Now that all the pieces were in place, Chito announced that he and Pocho were going to put on a show like no other. A large crowd gathered along the riverbank on the big day.

Diving right into the water with his scaly friend, Chito cycled through an amazing array of stunts. He swam circles around the croc, stuck his head underneath its legs, and even opened up its mouth for a peek inside.

The crowd went wild. Pocho and Chito were a sensation, and they even went on to star in their own documentary, ‘The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles.’

For 20 years, crowds from all over the globe came to watch Pocho and Chito perform. They always gasped when they saw Pocho’s size, but the beast never once harmed Chito.

Besides gaining local fame, Pocho became a true member of the Shedden family. Though Chito’s wife did get pretty mad when he admitted that he might love Pocho more than her!

YouTube / National Geographic

Even when there was no show happening, Chito would spend as much time as possible with the crocodile. There was nothing he enjoyed more than swimming and cuddling with his unusual pet.

Sadly, Pocho died of natural causes in 2011. When Chito held an elaborate funeral to honor his one-of-a-kind companion, throngs of fans and admirers turned up to pay their respects.

But Chito can always be proud of how far he came with Pocho, and what they accomplished together. Where the world saw a monster, he discovered a true friend.

 

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