Sometimes in a relationship a man has to worry about losing his wife to someone else. This can be a tricky experience, especially when the one she falls in love with is not a human! You’ll never guess who this man had to compete with for his wife’s affection.
Damian Aspinall is the chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, an organization that is “committed to returning rare and endangered animals back to their natural habitats,” according to its website. He and his wife, Victoria, are passionate about helping animals. Their most recent adventure left Damian in a struggle to win back his wife. When he brought her along on a restoration project to Gabon in Central Africa, he never imagined that he might lose his wife to one of the animals he was helping.
When Victoria met Ima, a gorilla who Damian had previously raised and returned to the wild, she fell in love! Not only that, but Ima fell in love with her, too! This adventurous husband never saw it coming.
Damian brought Victoria along on a trip to the Batéké Plateau National Park to transfer a group of young gorillas into the wild. While they were there, the explorer wanted to catch up with some other gorilla friends, who he had rescued from Kent years before. These animals were fully grown now, and Damian was excited to reconnect with them.
His main worry was that the gorilla group would not accept Victoria as a friend. Damian’s wife had never interacted with a wild gorilla before, and the animals might have seen her as a threat. This brave woman decided to try her luck with the pack, and she was so glad she did.
When Damian and Victoria found the gorillas, Djalta and Ima, they were resting on a bank by the river. The couple sailed down the stream toward the primates. This was the moment of truth.
Damian got out of the boat first, slowly wading through the water so that his gorilla friends could recognize him. When it was clear that they remembered their human friend, he climbed up onto the bank and sat down. Next it was Victoria’s turn to get into the water.
At Damian’s instruction, she slowly shifted toward the gorillas, using her body language to show that she was not a threat. The animals were interested in her, but they kept their distance at first. Damian waited for a friendly grunt to tell him that it was okay to move closer.
Victoria sat alongside her husband as the gorilla approached. After sniffing her shirt, the gorilla gave a friendly grunt. Victoria was accepted!
The next day the couple returned to the site. As Victoria sat on the grass, Ima came up to her. With a few grumbles he told her that he wanted a hug. Victoria was delighted! The two had an instant connection.
Victoria spent the rest of the day enjoying affection from Ima. She leaned against him under the sun as he held her hand in his. “I think I’ve lost my wife!” Damian joked.
Ima was completely captivated by Victoria. He even took off her hat and wore it himself! Clearly, this curious guy wanted to know as much as he could about the strange visitor.
“Watching Ima and Victoria is something incredibly beautiful,” Damian said. “These beautiful animals – so noble, so gentle – it just shows that we must never underestimate how extraordinarily beautiful these gorillas are.”
We might find wildlife intimidating, but this video shows that all animals are full of love and compassion. It is inspiring to see two people who are so passionate about making a difference together.
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Source: The Aspinall Foundation