This is the incredible encounter between animal behaviorist Linda Koebner and a chimp she rescued 25 years ago. Koebner, who founded the non-profit chimpanzee sanctuary Chimp Haven in Louisiana, spent four years teaching the chimps how to be wild in southern Florida after they were released from the hepatitis research lab where they lived .
She then returned to the enclosure and was greeted with open arms by the chimps, which was captured on camera and featured on the PBS documentary The Wisdom of the Wild. ‘Do you remember me?’ she asked
Koebner, a graduate at the time, helped ease the chimps into living outside and how to fend for themselves.
But she hadn’t been back in two decades, so decided to visit the few who remained, The Dodo reported.
‘It’s been so long,’ she says in the documentary. ‘Oh, you look great.’
In the footage, Koebner takes a boat over a small body of water to where the chimps live. As she nears the other side, a chimp comes to greet her.
‘Do you remember me?’ she asks.
A chimp named Swing reaches out a hand to Koebner from the dock, and cracks a huge smile.Then suddenly another chimp, named Doll, runs over excitedly.Koebner is overcome with tears as the two chimps lovingly embrace her.
They were terrified to get out of the security of their transport cage,’ Koebner says in the documentary. ‘Whether it was afraid to step on the grass, they hadn’t been on anything but hard bars for years, or just the feel of the wind and the sun. ‘They just huddled in the doorways and wouldn’t come out.’
Chimpanzees share 98.8 percent of human DNA and have been used as test subjects for drugs and vaccines.This experimentation only stopped in the US last year, when chimpanzees were listed as an endangered species.Koebner founded Chimp Haven in 1995 as a refuge for ‘lab chimps’ who were no longer needed for testing.