When his daughter, Tansy, was just 18 months old, Damian Aspinall put her in one of the gorilla enclosures at his wildlife park in the U.K. That was 22 years ago. This week, he released the video. It’s certainly cute … but was what he did a good idea? [readon]
Aspinall, a businessman and conservationist, says he’s releasing the video to bring awareness to the fact that gorillas face extinction. And through his foundation, he runs conservation programs in Africa as well as two wild animal parks in the U.K.
Aspinall says he wants people to know that these are gentle creatures who need our protection. He says he was afraid to release the video before now because of the possible negative reaction to putting a baby in with a gorilla. (It didn’t go down very well with most people when Steve Irwin, the self-described “crocodile hunter”, held his baby in one hand while dropping treats into a crocodile’s mouth with the other.)
The daughter, Tansy, is now 23 years old – and none the worse for her early induction into the world of gorillas. But any wild animal expert knows that it’s a really bad idea to put human babies with wildlife. Sure, gorillas are gentle creatures, and this gorilla mother was extraordinarily careful with Tansy. But apart from the danger to the child, the last thing we need in the animal protection world is another story of people being hurt by other kinds of animals. It always ends up with the animals getting hurt even more.