Linda Koebner was a 23-year-old graduate student when she was asked to participate in what would be a life changing project. When a Hepatitis vaccine had been found, there were several chimpanzees that were no longer needed. These chimps would need to be transitioned into living outside of the lab, if possible. Three of the rescued chimps were Swing, Doll, and Sparky.
Linda was there with them when they saw the sun for the first time in many many years. The chimps had been taken from their mothers at very young ages from Africa. They were terrified to leave their transfer boxes and explore their new habitat. The poor chimps had never had any sort of freedom before that day and just didn't know what to do with it.
Thankfully, Linda was successful in helping them transition into their new home. She was there with the chimps every day for four years. The young chimps saw her as their mother, protector, and friend.
Linda eventually had to leave the chimps, but she never forgot them. She came to visit the chimps 25 years after rescuing them and was not sure what to expect from them, after-all it had been 18 years since she last saw them face to face. Sadly, Sparky had passed away, but Swing and Doll were still alive and while Linda was nervous about seeing them again, she was also eager!
As Linda made her way over to them on a boat and began calling to them, the chimps were intrigued. Swing came right up to greet her with a huge grin on her face as if she really did recall who Linda was! What an emotional moment for both Linda and Swing!
Not to miss out on this special reunion Doll joined the party. Both chimps hugged Linda and were genuinely happy to see her! They sat together and reminisced about days past. Linda says "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."
Watch their tearfully joyful reunion below!
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