20th Sep 2012 5:05pm | By Jade Bremner
After 20 years, zoo owner Damien Aspinall has released incredible footage of his little girl in a gorilla enclosure.
In the footage we see Damien Aspinall’s 18-month-old daughter Tansy, going down a slide with a 300Ib gorilla.
The gorilla, at Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent, treats the toddler like one if its own offspring. It carries Tansy around and lets the child stroke its fur. Tansy’s father watches as the huge gorilla cradles the girl.
Conservationist Aspinall did not want to release the video until now, for fear of a public backlash and criticisms about the child’s welfare.
He has now chosen to release the video to raise awareness about gorillas, and show that they are gentle giants. He is looking to raise money to release gorillas born in captivity into the wild. He believes the footage will help convince people of the animals’ nature.
“I don’t care if I get a bit of stick because I think the gorillas get a good deal out of it. There’s an upside for them that there wasn’t before," said Aspinall to The Sun.
"If we can show millions of people how gentle and noble and wonderful these animals are, then I think we’re doing the gorillas a service. I’m happy to take the stick for that."
Aspinall believes that if gorillas know you, they are not threatening. “I was brought up with gorillas and if you’re part of the family group it’s not risky at all,” he said to The Sun.
“I can understand how some people would find that hard to believe but it just isn’t.
The Aspinall Foundation has previously released a total of 50 gorillas into the wild, which have since reproduced.