Ignoring the warnings, he sat down next to the big, strong, ferocious gorilla

The Aspinall Foundation, established three decades ago to promote wildlife conservation, is especially notable for its work with orphaned gorillas: rescuing them, raising them, and reintroducing them to the wild. Damien Aspinall, who now runs the foundation (it was started by his father), is personally very much involved with its efforts on behalf of gorillas.

A male lowland gorilla named Kwibi was one of the orphans Damien helped raise. When Kwibi turned five, he was taken to Gabon, on the west coast of central Africa, and released into the forest. Ever since, Damien had always wanted to see him again. After five years, he finally went to Gabon to track down his old friend. Kwibi, now 10, was big, strong, and known for his ferocity. According to Liz Pearson, the head of the foundation’s gorilla project, “He can be such a love and a sweetheart but then you just don’t know what can happen.”

Once in Gabon, as Damien recalled: “I was really determined to see him. I got in the boat with my brother and we went up and down the river for several hours. And I have this call for gorillas. And I was calling and turned around the corner and there was this magnificent now ten year-old gorilla and he hadn’t seen me for five years. But he heard my voice and came to the edge of the river.” Damien got out of the boat, clambered onto the riverbank and sat down right next to Kwibi. “I was a little concerned. But the moment I heard his deep love grumbling purr, I knew I was okay. He looked into my eyes with such intensity and such love and it was an incredible experience for me. We just sat there together, sort of drunk on each other. He embraced me like a long lost friend and it was just beautiful.”

Check out the video posted below and let us know what you thought about this amazing reunion. Don’t forget to like and share!