This is the unbelievable moment when a man risked his life to save the life of a drowning chimp when staff in the zoo ‘refused’ to do anything.
In 1990, truck driver Rick Swope did what no one else would, preventing a potential disaster.
As Swope watched the chimp enclosure, Jo-Jo the chimp and another male fought, after the struggle, Jo-Jo tried to flee but fell into a deep ditch.
The move nearly proved catastrophic since chimps can’t swim.
“Everyone in the whole place was just standing around watching this monkey drown,” Swope told the Deseret News. “When he went down the second time I knew I had to do something.”
Swope climbed a security wall and dove in after Jo-Jo, risking his own life to save the chimps.
Here’s the full video of the amazing event:
Swope’s rescue received brief national attention, but it left a lasting effect on a primatologist who works with chimpanzees.
Jane Goodall recalled the event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2005:
“He called up Rick Swope and he said, ‘That was a very brave thing you did. You must have known it was dangerous. Everyone was telling you. What made you do it?”
Here’s the full video of Jane Goodall’s talk:
“And Rick said, ‘Well, you see, I happened to look into his eyes, and it was like looking into the eyes of a man, and the message was, ‘Won’t anybody help me?’”
Jo-Jo was removed from the wild after his mother was slain by poachers, a situation all too frequent for chimps who desire to be seen as Swope was.
“If you see that look with your eyes, and you feel it in your heart, you have to jump in and try to help,” she said.
JoJo still lives in the area, but his fate is unknown. Rick Swope wasn’t immediately available for comment. Even 25 years later, his 1990 deeds spoke louder than words.