Man Introduces His Wife To Gorillas He Raised And Things Didn’t Go As Planned
Damian Aspinall knew that Victoria was the woman for him. She loved animals, and when they were married, they ended up sharing a love for animals. Aspinall was the owner of 2 different zoos but also was very familiar with the dangerous animals around the world.
After a short time of marriage, David decided it would be the perfect time to take his wife to Gabon to meet a couple of gorillas that he had raised and released back into the wild over a decade earlier. The couple and the guides would have a long and difficult search, but no one expected to see what would happen when they did find them. Let’s say that the plans did not go like they expected them to.
A Crazy Childhood
Howletts Wild Animal Park was established in 1957 by John Aspinall, which allowed David to grow up around all types of wild animals. The park is located on 700 acres in Kent and has a wide range of animals.
A surrogate gorilla mother pretty much raised Damian. When he was stuck up a tree, he was even rescued by the gorilla who carried him down the tree on her back. Then she would take the time to wipe away the tears that had stained his cheeks. Even this type of love, though, would not help get him ready for what he would see in the wild.
The Aspinall Foundation
While John Aspinall did set up a charity for the Howletts Wild Animal Park, they have to have additional funds. The organization is one that promotes wildlife conservation and proceeds to have two zoos in the UK the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and the Howlett’s Wild Animal Park.
Both of these zoos breed rare and endangered animals. The organization even helps with orphaned gorillas. After caring for orphaned gorillas, the zoos try to place them back in the wild. When Damian took over the fund, he had multiple plans for expansion.
One regret that Damian had was he never had a lot of friends over. That is because a lot of animals that were considered risky at the time, and parents tended to be quite cautious with the animals that he had.
One thing that he has mentioned in the past is that here seems to feel closer to the animals than he does to people. But that tends to be the case for a lot of the zoologists in that few people who work with animals regularly.
Even with the lack of friends coming over. Damian never really missed them because he had so much to do around the farm. He also has different films of when he was a child playing with lions and tigers and even the occasional bison.
A group of wasp is chasing one of his Fondest Memories of his childhood after him, and some of the animals ran into their nest. They all ended up racing as fast as I could to get away and go head-first into a pond.
Looking For Change
Damian Aspinall may be a millionaire now; however, it was not always the case. His father refused to help him financially, and that led Damian to have to work to make his own money and real estate. When his father passed away, there was no money left over.
A significant problem quickly arose after Damian Aspinall’s father passed away because the parts were losing over 4 million pounds a year. The shortfall ends up being close to 10 million pounds that the family had to find. Damian Aspinall ended up being the only one who had any interest in the animals.
Ever since he was a child, Damian Aspinall helped raise quite a few gorillas from birth. Becoming rather close friends as if they were their kids. Damian Aspinall would go on to name two of the male gorillas, Djalta and Ima.
That was the start of getting some of the gorillas moved back from the protected Wildlife parks and into the wild and their protected habitat. Damian Aspinall believes that by doing this, they’re going to help save the gorillas and give them the life that they deserved.
It would not be until August of 2016 when Damian Aspinall would end up getting married to Victoria Fisher, who worked at the Burberry Corporation at the time in Italy. She would eventually go on to joke that he not only married Damian, but she also made all the animals as they came in a package deal.
Victoria said that was fine because she loves animals just as much as her husband, maybe even a little bit more. They would also have some wolfs sleep in their bed, and Victoria would often kid around that they were her children.
How The Couple Met
Damian Aspinall and Victoria Fisher were to meet just off of a whim at a dinner party. She would eventually agree to go out on a date with him without even knowing any information about him. Then at lunch, he decided to tell all the stories about his childhood, and then she decided to go home and do like most people and look him up on Google.
Victoria thought that nobody would go for that type of setup because she usually didn’t. However, she also felt that there was something different about Damian Aspinall, and that is what she was looking for. That is when Damien introduced her to the gorillas that he loved before meeting Victoria.
Brought Back To The Wild
It had been over ten years since Damian Aspinall had seen the Gorillas that he had helped reintroduce into the wild. Now, he was very anxious to go out into the wild and find them and check to see how they were doing.
This was not the first time that he would lead an expedition to find the girl is that he’d be introduced into the wild, but this time you’ll be bringing along his new wife. Victoria did not know what to expect, and neither did Damian.
A Strange Bond
When the gorillas were at the wild animal park, they become very close to Damian Aspinall. They even have a special bond, and Damian was very anxious to see if they would remember him and how the gorillas would react when they saw him out in the wild.
Now the fully grown gorillas are known to be dangerous and are powerful animals. Damian Aspinall was very much aware of that, and he just wasn’t sure how they would react to Victoria, his new wife, and a stranger to them. However, he cannot concern himself with this even if he did have a valid reason for being anxious because he did have such a large area to search for the gorillas.
Soon after, the team with the experts decided to leave for Gabon with hopes of finding the gorillas. Damian was very excited with hopes that he would soon find Djalta and Ima. However, he was still very nervous about how they would respond to Victoria.
Even with the fear that someone, most likely Victoria would get injured, the couple went on with the adventure that they decided to take. The first challenge that ended up being harder than what was expected ad ended up being a challenge.
A Trip Of A Lifetime
The team would have to travel quite a bit as the gorillas proved to be very elusive. That is what caused the team to go on a trip of a lifetime and an adventure that they had not planned on undertaking.
Damian and Victoria on the adventure would even have to take a long boat trip down the river. Then they finally reached the jungle was the gorilla’s GPS was giving their general area as being located.
The gorillas had been monitored and tracked for some time, but Damian did not want to startle them when they were going to approach the gorillas. To that end, he decided the team would have to use a slow approach, which also helped lead to the adventure.
It would take the team quite a while in the tracking of the gorillas, and they would have to take the time to find the gorillas accurately. However, at the same time, the team was starting to lose hope that they would ever see the gorillas. That is when they had to accept that even with the technology, they would still have to get pretty creative in what they were doing.
Modern-day GPS is a lot more accurate, and that often helps the researchers in finding the animals they are looking for. However, in this case, the jungle is so large and vast that the crew would have to turn to a more modern approach in finding the animals, and that would be the use of drones.
The drones would have the cameras attached to them, and they would be wired into the smartphone that Damian had with him. This allowed the team to get a bird’s eye view on what they were looking for. With this type of help, the crew was finally able to find the animals that they were looking for and would have the hope that the reunion would go smoothly.
The gorillas took notice of the drones and decided that it would be time to come out of the bushes that they had been hiding in. At first, the gorillas were very cautious, which is very understandable because the drone was new. However, one thing that the gorillas did have was a look of confusion.
The good news is the gorillas did not look like they were angry or overly aggressive with the intrusion. The good news I where the gorillas were found; it was easily accessible by a boat as they were perched by a riverbank.
Almost Meeting Time
After finding the gorillas, the amount of anxiety in the group definitely went up as it was almost time for the crew to meet. The crew started to get anxious if the gorillas would become aggressive when they met Damian and Victoria or if they would even remember Damian and all the memories that they had formed when he was taking care of them.
The gorillas would soon spot the boat that was coming towards them with Damian and Victoria inside of it. However, the good news was the gorillas did not show aggression towards the crew. Instead, they tended to show more of intrigue into what they were doing and what the boat was carrying.
Mother Nature Takes Over For The Gorilla
The gorillas are an animal that is very shy and timid by nature. The gorillas also like to stay away from humans if possible. What makes them so deadly is the fact that they are a powerful animal. Not to mention, when a gorilla is provoked, they tend to have more problems controlling their strength compared to what they have done before.
Even a simple move that you make may provoke a gorilla with the surprise. That is why you have to be so careful when you are moving around a gorilla. What else it takes is the gorilla may see something that you are doing as being aggressive, even if you were not pushy. That is why else the team was so apprehensive a to how they would respond to the crew coming in and bringing Victoria with them.
As the boat started to get closer to the bank, it was decided that the drones should be brought back to the deck. That was done to keep the drones safe, but also decrease the amount of stimulation that the gorillas would be getting on the day.
Damian and the crew would come up on the boat very slowly, almost at a drift. That was to help bring in some caution to the safety of the crew, but also to give the crew time to assess the situation and determine if the gorillas would be friendly or if they would be aggressive towards them.
The New Approach
While the boat approach was very safe, Damian quickly looked at the situation and started to look at how they were approaching. That is when he decided that it would be best to come in from land to the gorillas in hopes that they would remember him. However, it had been 14 years since he had last seen them.
However, Damian would still have to get wet in the water as the water was waist-high, and he would have to get out and wade to shore. He did not want to get the boat too close to t the shore for fear that the motor noise may scare them.
Damian knew the behavior of the gorillas and realized that he would have to stay close to the ground and not be taller than the gorillas. Doing that allowed him to show that he was not aggressive and that they would not have to worry about him hurting them.
After a short time of Damian hanging out with the gorillas, he heard a noise that he recognized. The gorillas had started to make the same friendly and happy grunts that he had known when he was raising the gorillas. To that end, it would seem that the animals did recognize Damian and knew who he was.
A Relaxed Approach
After a short period, Damian was able to tell that the gorillas were very relaxed with him, and he decided that it was time for him to get his wife on board. That is when he had Victoria exit the boat and come in from the water and slowly come up the river bank towards where they were located.
Ima and Djalta both would take a liking to Damian right away, but with Victoria, it was not the case. When she started to approach, she had to go a little bit slower and was a little bit more deliberate in how she had to approach as the gorillas were not as accepting to her as they were to Damian, who they seemed to remember.
Victoria Takes A Chance
As mentioned, Victoria already had to go through the waist-high water to get closer to the gorillas. However, when she was still off the shore, Damian had her stop while in the water. This was so Damian could judge the type of result the gorillas were going to have to her approaching and that they were not going to become aggressive.
After some time, Damian started to hear a noise that he was familiar with. That was the grunts that he had heard before when raising the gorillas, and that was the friendly grunt. It was at that time that Damian thought the gorillas would be friendly for now, but Victoria would still have to be cautious in what she was going to do.
Slow And Steady
While the gorillas did take in Damian relatively quickly compared to what he thought they would, he was still worried about how they would react with Victoria. That is when he had Victoria sit down on the bank and approach ever slower than what she usually would have had to do.
After some time, Damian would hear a guttural type of grunt that he had heard before. The grunt was one that Damian knew that was of acceptance, and Damian took that to be a good sign because it meant that they were starting to be accepting Victoria.
After he had heard the grunt, Damian knew that the gorillas were starting to accept Victoria as one of their own and bringing her into the pack. However, what gave it away was when one of the gorillas came over and gave Victoria a nuzzle with his face, which was a clear sign that the gorillas had accepted Victoria.
When the gorillas had accepted Victoria, and after getting multiple hugs and nuzzles from the large animals, Damian and Victoria decided that it was time to call it a day. They would leave the riverbank, but it would not be the last time that they would see each other.
The Next Day
While gorillas are known to travel, Damian and Victoria were taking a risk in hoping that the gorillas would be close to where they had left them the day before. Well, the couple were in luck as the gorillas were actually in the same spot that they had been left.
Ima, upon seeing Victoria coming back to the bank, would be one of the first to fully accept him. When they returned the next day, Ima would come running over to Victoria and would make the noises of acceptance towards Victoria. Ima and Victoria would end up hugging and playing with each other for hours on end.
One shocking thing that would happen would be the hat incident. While it may not be an incident, it was a change that shocked a lot of the people that were in the group. Ima would take the hat that Victoria was wearing on her head and put it on his head. The video is quite cute and can be found on YouTube of this happening.
The video currently has over 21 million views and has been liked close to a hundred thousand times. It would be in 2013 that the gorillas would be moved to the protected habitat that they would be living in currently.
Living in the African tropical rainforest s is a great place to live, but the gorillas would be split into the eastern and western groups at some point. A common theory is the split happened at some point during the last Ice Age. They have been separated from each other for so long, though, that they now have distinctive characteristics.
The gorillas stay in the forest almost all the time and only leave when they are looking for food. The downside is the gorillas have to travel quite a bit more than usual to get the food and forest that they need to survive.
The population for Western Lowland Gorillas has slowly started to slip over the past 25 years. The decline has been reported to be as high as 60%. The exact number is tough to calculate because of the shy nature of the gorillas accurately.
The main culprit for the decline in the population is the exposure to human diseases and the increase in the population of humans. Even the poachers are getting in on the act as they are starting to poach the gorillas for meat, sport, and even for trophies.
Are Gorillas Dangerous?
The gorillas have a tendency to be very shy towards humans. However, that also means they have a habit of leaving humans alone. If they are put in the right circumstance, though, the gorillas have been known to get aggressive, and it is typically because of human error.
Normally the human has to make the gorilla feel surprised or threatened. However, they are typically going to find that the gorillas will make bluff charges and at times, end up getting a loud roar let out before they cause any type of harm to the people that are around them, which is usually ample time of warning.
This is the charge that the gorillas usually do. They will charge at people and stop just a meter away from the people. If people react submissively, then they tend to have nothing to fear as the gorillas will not view them as a threat then.
If the target of the bluff tries to run away, though, the gorillas will give chase. Once the fleeing target is caught, the gorillas tend to bite the first thing that they can catch in their mouths. What is even worse for people is the gorillas are just as fast as humans.
The Couples Daughter
The love for conservation would not fall far from the tree. Tansy Aspinall, who is 23, would follow in her fathers’ footsteps with the animals. After seeing all that her father did to help the animals, she decided that it would be the perfect fit for her to follow in his footsteps.
Some of that love comes from exposure to the gorillas at a young age. She recently helped return a 30-year-old gorilla named Djala to the wild after being around him her entire life. He actually had been playing with Tansy since she was a small infant of 6 months old in the nursery.
Growing Up With The Gorillas
Tansy would often mention how comfortable she is around the gorillas because of the young age she was exposed to them. She had childhood pictures of her riding on the backs of the gorillas as a young child.
While there was some concern at first, her parents quickly had those fears quenched after seeing her rest comfortably in the strong arms of the then younger Djala. He would comfort her and hold her just like her father would do. Granted, the adoption of orphans from Africa has always been commonplace, and this type of interaction is considered normal now, it is not generally by a gorilla.
A Continuing Legacy
It is easy to think that the Aspinall Foundation may have some issues when her father passes those fears are quickly quenched after listening to Tansy and the passion she has for the gorillas. After being raised around the animals and living with some of them for years, she has developed a love for all the animals.
She even proudly sports some of the scars that she has received from the tiger cubs that she has helped raise. These cubs are just another line in the animals that the Aspinall Foundation is helping to nurse back to health and get them returned to the wild. With that type of love, it is easy to see that Tansy Aspinall is going to carry on her grandfather’s and father’s legacy.