A gorilla/human reunion

How can anyone watch this video (tweeted by Matthew Cobb) and still maintain that animals don’t have emotions? It’s touching and sad, in the way that’s sad when any human who has bonded with a young animal must release it back to the wild:

And here’s the YouTube description, which includes a link if you want to adopt a baby gorilla:

In the African jungle, conservationist Damian Aspinall searches for Kwibi, a lowland gorilla he hasn’t seen for 5 years. Kwibi grew up with Damian at his Howletts Wild Animal Park in England. When he was five, he was released into the forests of Gabon, West Africa as part of conservation programme to re-introduce gorillas back into the wild. Now Kwibi’s 10 years old, much bigger and stronger. Will Damian find him? Will Kwibi attack him?

Watch the whole story of the amazing UK gorillas who are making a comeback in Africa in Gorilla School on Animal Planet narrated by Kevin Spacey from 4th May 2010 at 8pm.Adopt a Gorilla School baby: http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/ado… Produced by Aqua Vita Films Ltd http://www.aquavitafilms.com


  1. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    It is only sad in the sense of a parent letting go of a child as he/she grows up and moves on to a life of one’s own. The pride of seeing the success overcomes the sadness.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      But a postcard would be nice, now and then. Or maybe Skype.

  2. Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    This fills my heart to overflowing… and now it’s raining from my eyes.

    Thanks for posting this beautiful video, Dr. C.

  3. Yi
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s so beautiful.

  4. ladyatheist
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Very touching. It’s incomprehensible how creationists could take offense at being related to these creatures.

  5. Marella
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. It makes no sense to assume other animals have no emotions. The higher thought processes are less well developed in them than in humans, but emotion is obviously a more primitive method of decision making than reason, and clearly the one that most animals (including most people most of the time)use. In the presence of options, they have to have some way of deciding on a course of action, and emotion is all most of them have to guide them. Even humans often find emotion a more reliable guide to what they should do next, than reason. This is because it takes in a whole bunch of information we are not consciously aware of and factors it into the equation.

    • Matt G
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      You put it very well. Emotions tap into an older system (paleocortex) which can subvert the higher level processing that comes from the neocortex. I’ve heard it said that the vast majority of our decision-making relies on instinct or intuition, which we then rationalize.

    • dinosaurjrjr
      Posted March 5, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Excellent statement!

  6. Jim I
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    I just saw this today–chimps who have spent their entire lives in cages, finally allowed a place outside. We’re all social primates that evolved an ability to read the facial expressions of our peers. Tell me if your primitive faculties remain intact if you are moved by this video:

  7. pktom64
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    This is so moving.

    It reminds me of this one about Christian the Lion… I’m sure it has been posted before but it’s just so beautiful.

  8. Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Wow, it must have been so difficult to leave again – how do you explain to a gorilla that you can’t stay?

  9. Christopher
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    I think there is a ninja cutting some onions in here. *wipes eye*

  10. NoAstronomer
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I have seen that posted somewhere else before and as I commented on that post : anyone who can watch this and still not acknowledge that we are related is simply being willfully ignorant.


  11. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The idea that animals don’t (‘really’) have emotions is something I have only ever heard from creationists; I suppose it’s possible to think that sentience evolved all at once, uniquely, in the genus Homo, but there’s obviously no evidence for such a claim and the only motive for assuming so would be religion.
    I’m glad I wasn’t born a gorilla though. Unlike Kwibi, the chance I’ll end up as bushmeat is negligible.

  12. stabbinfresh
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful and touching, thank you for sharing. 🙂

  13. Posted March 5, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Poetry on the run.

  14. threecheersforreason
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    so, there seems to be general agreement here that animals have emotions; certainly, we have all witnessed non-human creatures plainly displaying both joy and fear. and the idea that animals don’t ‘really’ feel pain has been dismissed, with some general outrage, as self-serving religious nonsense. from whence, then, arises the disconnect that serves as the basis for dismissing the physical pain and emotional terror felt by animals being slaughtered for food as inconsequential and not worthy of discussion?

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      I never heard anyone maintain that pain and terror are essential to carnivory. It is widely accepted (outside the halal/kosher axis) that they can be reduced or eliminated in all stages of meat production and some forms of wild harvesting. It certainly has been discussed, though maybe not here much.

      • threecheersforreason
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

        they ‘can’ be, but in the overwhelming majority of cases they are not. my various attempts to further discussion of the issue here have been shouted down or cut off.

        “I never heard anyone maintain that pain and terror are essential to carnivory.”

        i did not contend that they are, and certainly those forms of suffering can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated. industrialised production of animal protein, the source of 99% of the meat eaten in this country, is inherently cruel. there is no escaping that, other than choosing to ignore it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 6, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          my various attempts to further discussion of the issue here have been shouted down or cut off.

          Because, unless the host brings it up, this is not the forum for that discussion, nor should you keep trying to hijack the discussion to make it so.

          I’ll refrain from mentioning your annoying attempts to provoke response by making sweeping accusatory statements about the entire readership here. Oops, maybe I didn’t.

          • 3cheersforreason
            Posted March 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

            i had the crazy idea that discussions of animal physiology and psychology were an appropriate place to discuss those very things.

            “…making sweeping accusatory statements about the entire readership here.”

            i don’t think i’ve done anything of the sort, but if you’ll provide an example of my having done so, i’d be grateful.

  15. Diane G.
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink


  16. Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    That is so truly amazing. What a wonderful story. Incredible!!!

  17. gravityfly
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    One of the most beautiful animal videos I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing.

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