Dad Defends Sending Baby Girl in Gorilla Cage
Damian Aspinall posted an old video of his daughter Tansy, then 18-months-old playing in gorilla cages with the 300 lb. creatures. He released the video now in support of his foundation and to portray gorillas as gentle creatures.
Despite waiting over 20 years to release the footage, Aspinall still received enormous public backlash, as little Tansy, now 22 interacted with a gorilla inside his cage at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, England.
“I can see what the perception is here but the reality is that I was brought up with gorillas, my family had been brought up with gorillas and if you’re brought up with gorillas and part of the family group, it’s not risky at all,” Aspinall explained. “I can understand how some people would find that hard to believe but it just isn’t. These animals are very, very gentle animals.”
“I don’t remember specifically that video,” Tansy defended her father’s decision. “But I definitely remember going in with the animals and just loving being around them. It was playing with another brother or sister, really.”
“I think the most important thing about gorillas to remember is, exactly like humans, there’s some which are much more kind and gentle than others, which is the one that we go in with,” she also added. “My dad would never put me in with an overly aggressive gorilla, ever.”
Damian Aspinall runs the Aspinall foundation, a wildlife conservation organization that breeds gorillas in captivity and releases them into the wild.
“The whole point of this is so that people can see that and if people want to help gorillas, this is a great opportunity to get behind the foundation,” Aspinall also added. “If anyone is out there, listening to this and wants to help the work, we need money to help these animals and help protect the wilderness that mankind is destroying.”
Aspinall has another daughter, now 9 who he wanted to put in a gorilla cage when she was a baby.
“I did this with my other daughters, now it’s Freya’s turn,” he explained back in 2003. “I know them. I grew up with them. They are my friends.”
Unfortunately, police and social services disagreed, barring the father from providing Freya with the same experience.
“I would have no hesitation at all,” he said. “It’s just the political landscape has changed such and health and safety laws have changed such for the last 10 to 15 years that make it very, very difficult. But it was up to me, I wouldn’t hesitate at all.”
A poll at the Today Show showed that 85% of voters considered these actions to be “irresponsible parenting.”