Chimpanzees Cry When Hugging Woman Who Rescued Them 20 Years Ago


This is the amazing story of how animal behviorist Linda Koebner rescued a pair of chimps from a research lab 25 years ago.

She taught them how to live in the world, and after years of not seeing them, they were reunited with the most heartwarming ‘welcome back’ hug.

Loving reception: This is the moment Linda Koebner was reunited with one of the chimps she helped ease back into the wild after they lived in a test lab for six years 

Linda Koebner is the founder of Chimp Haven, a non-profit chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana.

She spent four whole years teaching chimps how to be wild after rescuing them for a research lab.

Embrace: The two lovingly hug after seeing each other for decades, as Koebner is reduced to tears 

Years later, when she returned to the enclosure, the chimps greeted her with open arms.

Luckily this was all captured on camera and released in a PBS documentary called The Wisdom of the Wild

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 a hepatitis research lab

Linda was reduced to tears after the chimps instantly recognized her and gave her a very emotional hug.


'Do you remember me?': The chimps live in a special enclosure in southern Florida and Koebner went to visit

'You look good': Koebner returned to the enclosure and was greeted with open arms by the chimps

Here is the full video:

Linda was only a graduate when she helped these chimps to live outside and fend for themselves.

But it had been two decades since she had seen them, so she decided to visit the few of them who remained.


‘It’s been so long,’ she says in the documentary. ‘Oh, you look great.’

Flashback: The chimps were released in 1974 and Koebner - then a grad student - was part of a team charged with helping them learn to live in the wild 

In the footage, Linda takes a boat to where the chimps live, and as she nears the land, one of the chimps, named Swing, goes to meet her.

Linda asks ‘Do you remember me?’ When Swing reaches his hand out for Linda and cracks a big smile.

Koebner recalls in the documentary how the chimps struggled to even get out of their transport cages 

This is when another chimp called Doll runs over to Linda, they both give her an excited loving embrace which causes Linda to be overcome with tears.

‘Whether it was afraid to step on the grass, they hadn’t been on anything but hard bars for years,’ Koebner said

'Whether it was afraid to step on the grass, they hadn't been on anything but hard bars for years,' Koebner said

“Chimpanzees have provided us so much in this world. So much knowledge about ourselves, about our social lives, about our dispositions, because they are so much like us as beings.”

“These chimpanzees have taught me about resilience. All of these have gone through such tremendous adversity, and yet they’re forgiving, and they’re whole again.”

Back for a visit: Koebner returned to enclosure from the sanctuary that she runs in Louisiana 

Linda recalls how when the chimps were finally released after six years in cages, they had no idea what to do and struggled to embrace the outdoors.

'Chimpanzees have provided us so much in this world,' Linda Koebner says in the film

‘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.’

Chimps were used for experimentation due to their close DNA links to humans, it wasn’t until only a few years ago when the US stopped it due to the species being listed as endangered.

RELATED: Photographs Capture Beautiful Relationship Between A Baby Gorilla And Chimp

Written by Joe Kahlo

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