Tansy Aspinall grew up helping with activities of her family’s charity, The Aspinall Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to rehabilitate gorillas that had been in captivity at Howletts Wild Animal Park in southern England. The main goal of the UK-based nonprofit is to release the gorillas into their natural environment in West Africa.
In her interview with Evening Standard, Tansy said that during her childhood years, she had a very personal relationship with the gorillas who were in captivity – they used to play and have fun together. “The gorillas would come up and hug you, and we’d run and roll around and chase them. So fun.”
When Tansy was 11 years old, two gorillas, Bimms and Djalta, she had a special bond with were released back to their native habitat in Gabon.
“My sister Clary and I often played with Djalta and Bims on the lawn and sometimes we went into the cages with other gorillas. I loved being around them all, but those two guys were really very special to us, like our relatives,” she told Daily Mail.
In 2014, Tansy together with her farther Damian traveled to Gabon to find her childhood friends.
“When we set out to find them again I was a little apprehensive at first because I didn’t know if they would remember me after all that time, or if they had become hardened by life and possibly dangerous,” she admitted.
It’s incredible that when Tansy reunited with Bimms 12 years later, he seemed to immediately recognize her and even gave her a couple of
hugs. “He definitely recognized me,” she said. “He was so sweet and he was hugging me and being so gentle. He’s 18 now.”
Watch the below video to see this touching encounter. This story is another example that shows that sometimes animals can be more human than us.