Damian Aspinall Kills His Gorillas
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

DarkScholar82, The Daily Kos
March 2015

However well intentioned Aspinall may have been, expecting animals raised by humans to survive in the jungle was na´ve bordering upon stupid. Gorilla experts such as those at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund warned that gorillas, being susceptible to shock when their surroundings were changed, would not do well in the wild after spending twenty years being cared for by people.

A recent report on 60 Minutes described the plight of British aristocrat Damian Aspinall, whose father raised a private menagerie of lowland gorillas. After his father died, he came to the conclusion that keeping wild animals in a zoo was wrong and cruel to animals. To rectify his father's error, he decided to send gorillas that had been raised in Britain to Gabon in West Africa. Among those he sent were a troop of eleven gorillas whom had trained in a "gorilla school" to prepare them for the wild.

Five out of the eleven died within a month of being released. As a British news article described:

But he has now been left "devastated" after the lifeless bodies of four adults and one baby gorilla were found on the Gabon reserve.
It is thought they were mauled by an adult male gorilla, but others have suggested poachers or saboteurs could have been to blame.

The bloodbath has wiped out almost half of the family of 11, which is headed by 30-year-old Djala.

The victims include four of his "wives" - Tamki, 25, Kishi, 16, Mumba, 27 and Kibi, 22 - and one of his five offspring, a three-year-old called Akou.

My Gut Reaction: Did anyone with half a brain not think this was going to happen?

Just from watching the 60 Minutes report, it was clear that this effort was doomed from the start. However well intentioned Aspinall may have been, expecting animals raised by humans to survive in the jungle was na´ve bordering upon stupid. Gorilla experts such as those at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund warned that gorillas, being susceptible to shock when their surroundings were changed, would not do well in the wild after spending twenty years being cared for by people. Aspinall brushed off their advice, saying that only a "maverick" like himself could solve the problem of animal captivity.

However, the report quickly revealed the flaws in Aspinall's plan. One video included in the story showed Aspinall reuniting with one of his favorite gorillas, Kwibi. Kwibi rushed out to see what was happening the minute he heard Aspinall's boat nearby. As charming as the reunion may have been, rushing towards signs of human activity is extremely dangerous for a gorilla in the wild, given the threat posed by poachers. Furthermore, Kwibi, after meeting with Aspinall again, refused to let him go when he tried to leave. This was not the reaction of a wild animal, but of a domesticated animal that has been abandoned in the wild.

Furthermore, although the trainers at the "gorilla school" tried to teach the gorillas survival skills, to lure the animals into the wild they had to provide them with food. Associating humans with food is probably the best way to get a wild animal killed.

At the end of the report, Aspinall, in a stunning display of self-absorption, said his opponents would be "jumping up and down" and gloating. To which I said to the television "No, jackass, they're not happy about this. Your stupidity got five lowland gorillas killed."

Lowland gorillas are considered a critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. To put that in perspective, the IUCN has a scale of endangerness, with the only categories more severe than critically endangered being "extinct in the wild" and straight up extinct. Aspinall sacrificed five animals on the altar of his own ideology.


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