Damian Aspinall spent his childhood inside the Howletts Wild Animal Park, which was founded by his father, John Aspinall. So naturally, when he got married to Victoria, he wanted her to meet the animals he had raised and spent lots of time with.
Victoria instantly fell in love with one of the gorillas. And despite her husband’s warning, she got dangerously close to the animal, and that was when the unexpected happened.
Damian didn’t have many friends as a child, but he had wild animals to keep him company.
“I’ve always felt disconnected, and humans inevitably let you down – animals never do. There’s more of honesty and purity there,” he told Daily Mail. Damian could’ve never imagined that one of his animals would hurt the love of his life.
He participated in several projects that involved releasing animals back into the wild, and this is how Damian got to know a few baby gorillas.
But there were two gorillas named Ima and Djalta that he was especially close to. “Both of the gorillas were planned to be moved back into the wild in a protected habitat,” Damian told Daily Mail. But he had no idea that he would soon reunite with them.
In August 2016, Damian married the love of his life, Victoria Fisher. Initially, she had no idea who Damian was when she agreed to go out with him. “He asked me for lunch the same week we met, and normally I would have said no,” she said.
“But I found him intriguing. He’s one of those guys who captures your attention immediately.” Little did she know how this decision would affect her life.
In June 2017, Damian and his wife went on a mission to find Ima and Djalta. He spent many years hanging out with the two gorillas and wondered if they still remembered him.
Luckily, the gorillas were tagged with GPS locators, so it didn’t take long for the couple to find them. But would they welcome Damian and Victoria with open arms, or would they attack them?
Damian and his wife watched the two gorillas make their way to the riverbank, which was the perfect spot for the team to approach them with their boat.
They couldn’t help but fear that the gorillas would attack them. Victoria was the first to step into the waters and approach the river bank where Djalta and Ima were located. So how did they react?
“I didn’t want to frighten them, and I wanted to make sure that they were relaxed,” she told Daily Mail. Damian instructed her to stay still and wait for him. He was worried that the gorillas would attack her, but Victoria didn’t listen to him.
That was when the disaster struck.
The two gorillas made a friendly gurgling sound towards Victoria, so he told her to keep going. Suddenly, one of the animals rubbed her with his face, which was a sign that he had accepted her.
Ima and Djalta both welcomed Victoria with open arms. Then, after spending some time with the gorillas, the couple left. But this wasn’t the last time they would see them.
Victoria and Damian decided to return the next day to see if the gorillas were still there. Ima rushed towards the couple and hugged them.
But then, something happened that shocked them to the core.
Ima took Victoria’s hat, sniffed it, and then put it on his head. This precious moment was captured on camera and uploaded on YouTube.
The video has received over 163,000 likes and 21 million views! But one wrong move could’ve provoked the gorilla.
Gorillas are usually very careful with humans, and one wrong move could’ve turned this into a tragedy.
Any movement can be potentially perceived as an aggressive position.
If a gorilla suspects a human wants to attack her, the animal will start roaring and bluff charging.
Victoria was lucky that the gorilla accepted her because many things could have gone wrong with their introduction.
This was the first time Victoria met the two gorillas, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Had she attempted to run away, the animals would have chased her. Gorillas are able to catch up to a human in a matter of seconds.
Once caught, the animal would bite the first body part of a human it sees. Gorillas can be aggressive if they think they are in danger.
But did Victoria leave the jungle in one piece?
Victoria’s introduction to the two gorillas was a success.
She will continue working with her husband to restore ecosystems so that animals like Ima and Djalta can live in peace.