Detroit Zoo Hall Of Fame, Drowning Chimp Saved By Man

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The last time we heard about a person in a gorilla/chimpanzee enclosure was the whole Harambe incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. I bet that many people forgot that there was an incident that happened several decades ago that also involved a human in the water with a chimpanzee… though this one had a much happier ending. It occurred well before the advent of social media, but I bet it would have been viral for quite a while.

We see video from nearly 40 years ago – the Detroit Zoo had a new chimpanzee exhibit in 1990 and that’s when this was shot. A chimpanzee named Jo-Jo was being harassed by other chimps and he ran and fell into a moat… and chimps can’t swim, due to their lack of natural buoyancy. It looked like he was a goner, but then Rick Swope, a truck driver, jumped in and after a failed attempt, got Jo-Jo to the shore.

What made this even more amazing was that Swope was a recent father. He did this without thinking of the fact that he might leave his wife and child behind if something happened to him. Actually, we can change that ‘amazing’ to ‘potentially boneheaded.’ Then again, guys throughout his history have straddled this line with their actions and this one turned out for the better – they usually do.

Swope did get out of the enclosure in time – though he would have been safe staying in the water, since the apes can’t swim either. He was wise, though, not to tempt the more aggressive animals. In any case, it was a heroic act and it ended well for all involved. Unless Jo-jo got thrown in the water again on a later date. Hopefully, that didn’t happen… Then Swope would have gotten soaked for nothing.

Do you recall anything similar happening? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section. Also, please “Like” us on Facebook!

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