To break into a zoo and get in among wild animals is strictly forbidden and can have deadly consequences.
But in this case it actually saved a life.
Father of three, Rick Swope, did what no one else dared when he saw that a chimp at the Detroit Zoo was in mortal danger. He went over the fence and jumped into the water – a daring initiative that ultimately saved the life of the chimpanzee Jo-Jo.
It was in 1990 when the 33-year-old truck driver Rick Swope visited the Detroit Zoo with his wife and their three children. When the family was standing next to the chimp fence, Rick heard a splash.
Visitors and staff at the zoo could see how a chimpanzee, Jo-Jo, ended up in the moat of water after a fight with another chimpanzee. Most stood and watched as the obviously injured Jo-Jo was fighting for its life in the water.
And because chimpanzees can’t swim, the situation was serious.
That’s when Rick felt he had to do something. Although zoo staff shouted at him not to go in, he jumped over the fence and threw himself into the water to rescue the 60-kilogram animal.
“Everyone just stood and watched as the monkey was drowning,” Rick told Desert News.Rick had no thought of his own safety, despite the fact that chimpanzees are 3-5 times stronger than humans and can be very aggressive. On the first attempt, Rick lost the grip on Jo-Jo and the chimpanzee fell to the bottom of the 1.5-meter deep moat.
“The water was so dirty, so I could not see anything. I dived down and swam to the bottom. In the end, I saw him,” Rick told The Chicago Tribune.
Cheered on by spectators, Rick finally got Jo-Jo up to safe ground. The event was a world first and millions have praised Rick for his heroic effort. The hero himself wasn’t particularly excited about the attention.
“It was no big deal. I reflected not so much of it. I had the possibility to save him, so I did it,” Rick said.
Watch the video below for more details:
Although it’s been 26 years since Rick’s courageous rescue, this story remains just as heartwarming. Please share with your family and friends today, so more people can celebrate Rick! Courage is never out of fashion.
At Newsner, we love animals and believe in treating them with utmost respect. Please like if you do, too.