Recently, encounters in which humans enter zoo enclosures have been deadly.
That hasn’t always been the case, however. In 1990, Rick Swope’s trip to the Detroit Zoo turned into a daring rescue of a chimpanzee. Jo-Jo the chimp had been rescued by the zoo after his mother was killed by poachers. After a successful transition into zoo life, the morning of Swope’s visit, he fell into the deep moat surrounding his enclosure after being chased by another ape.
Swope saw the chimp drowning, and even though he was warned by a zookeeper to stay out, he jumped in the water to pull Jo-Jo to safety.
More than 25 years later, this rescue still pulls at the heartstrings.
Jane Goodall, the famous chimpanzee researcher, talked about a conversation her boss once had with Swope.
“He called up Rick Swope and he said, ‘That was a very brave thing you did. You must have known it was dangerous. Everyone was telling you. What made you do it?’ And Rick said, ‘Well, you see, I happened to look into his eyes, and it was like looking into the eyes of a man, and the message was, ‘Won’t anybody help me?'”
(via The Dodo)
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