Humans reunite with apes they rescued many years earlier

In this heartwarming video. a woman goes to a refuge in Florida housing chimps once used in lab research—chimps whom she saved and rehabilitated. Will they remember her? Here are the details:

After 18 years, chimpanzees Doll and Swing still recognize their old friend, Linda Koebner. From the award-winning film WISDOM OF THE WILD, this excerpt captures the emotional reunion between two former laboratory chimpanzees and the woman who helped them transition to a life without bars. Produced, written, directed and narrated by Allison Argo for PBS’ Nature Series.

Have a gander, and try not to tear up.

Now Linda has been told who the chimps are, and it’s not clear she would remembers them after 18 years without this knowledge. After all, both woman and chimps have changed. And do the chimps recognize her? It’s not clear, though it looks like it. Is there evidence that apes have memories that long? I don’t know.

What is clear is that Linda formed a deep and affectionate bond with these animals. And I wonder whether it was really necessary to confine these intelligent creatures in the lab and infect them with bacteria and viruses.

Here’s a similar but equally wonderful video with a man and woman reuniting in Gabon with gorillas they raised in England a dozen years before.


  1. ploubere
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


  2. YF
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    A real tear jerker indeed!

    “I wonder whether it was really necessary to confine these intelligent creatures in the lab and infect them with bacteria and viruses.” Well, nothing is ‘necessary’- it’s all about how we feel and the value we place on our own lives compared with those of other organisms. I ate a pig (intelligent creature) for dinner yesterday. ‘Necessary’? No. But that’s what I wanted to eat.

  3. Posted August 2, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Evolution is wrong!! Our ONE True GOD the FATHER who art in Heaven Above CREATED the HEAVENS ( UNIVERSE ) and the EARTH!!

    I believe in Our ONE True GOD’S CREATION!!

    Love 💙 Always and Shalom, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    • Posted August 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      And what, precisely, is your evidence that evolution is wrong? Have you read my book? Do you know about the fossil record, biogeograhy, embryology, molecular biology, and all the areas that agree on the fact of evolution.

      Or do you deny it simply because your religion says evolution is wrong? I suspect the latter. If that’s the case, pray tell us how you know God exists, as the evidence for God is nonexistent compared to the evidence for evolution. And how do you KNOW your religion, instead of, say, Hinduism or some form of shamanism, is the right one? I’m waiting.

      • Richard
        Posted August 3, 2017 at 3:34 am | Permalink

        I suspect we will be waiting a long time…

        • Mike
          Posted August 3, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          A very long time.

  4. nwalsh
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Shit I hate it when salt gets in my eyes.

  5. Posted August 2, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    “Have a gander, and try not to tear up.”
    I have happily failed.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 2, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Yup. I already knew before watching that I’d tear up, and don’t mind it at all.

    • Posted August 3, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Me too. 😥

  6. busterggi
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I suspect the chimps long life expectancy and their own changes as they age does give them the capacity to remember long unseen friends.

    • nicky
      Posted August 2, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that and their highly social ways making individual recognition important.
      I remember Frans de Waal describing a similar immediate and happy recognition.
      Wonderful videos.

  7. Posted August 2, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    “What took you so long?!” :’)

  8. phoffman56
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    On the question of chimps’ long term memory, there is an interesting anecdote (he calls it, being careful to distinguish from more acceptable scientific evidence) in Franz de Waal’s recent book “Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?” I guess adding ‘non-human’ as the 3rd last word would make a long title much worse!

    Anyway, very roughly, a young male could see out a window that staff were hiding goodies in an old tire, but the rest did not see that. They released all the chimps, and the young male sauntered around, surreptitiously, until the rest were off and occupied, then grabbed the loot and had a feast, avoiding more dominant ones ‘robbing’ him.
    That little experiment is interesting enough, but was never repeated for 15 years when a TV crew were told of it, wanted to see it directly and so…

    By this time that male was the dominant chimp there. So they used a young female, and changed it only in that the loot was buried. The experiment worked similarly, except our male did somehow see her get the stuff. But he left her alone.
    However he did go over to the old tire, and inspected it very carefully, and increasingly ‘irritatedly’. Then he behaved, as far as one could see, by indicating that he did remember about this game, and what the hell are those staff playing at—he knew where some loot should be—after all it was only 15 years earlier!

  9. Richard
    Posted August 3, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Please be careful, Professor Death (Emeritus). With such a display of sentimentality you risk losing your hard-earned reputation for Heartless Indifference and Callous Disregard For The Sanctity Of Life.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 3, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Tragedy indeed. Though the gorillas found brutally murdered were not the ones in the video clip in the OP. The gorillas in the reunion video clip had been released years prior while the gorillas that were killed were from a family group of ten that had just recently been released.

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