Linda Koebner loves chimps so much, she’s dedicated her life to them. But when she was reunited with two chimps that she had raised, she just couldn’t hold back.
Humans have a special connection to the ape world. We’re so similar and yet so different to apes.
From a young age, Linda Koebner decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to working with apes. When it was time to enroll in college, she decided to study as a behavioral researcher.
When she was 23 years old, Koebner became a graduate student. That meant undertaking practical field research. Her assignment was to look after three adorable young chimps.
The chimpanzees had been rescued from labs, where they had spent the first six years of their lives. The university wanted to put the animals in a sanctuary, but they needed nurturing. Koebner decided to do all that she could for these adorable little creatures.
The young student realized that the chimpanzees would be hard work when she saw them arrive at their new home.
Almost nobody could get them out of the cages that they had arrived in. Their entire lives, the chimps had only known the labs. This new environment just seemed so scary to them.
Koebner named the chimps Doll, Swing and Sparky, because they were dolls, but they could also experience sharp mood swings, which made living around them a sparky experience!
Their new home was a large island in a lake in Florida, but the chimpanzees had never seen or felt grass or sunlight ever before.
But Linda was a great teacher, despite still being a student! The three chimps grew acclimatized to nature.
Even when Koebner graduated, she was able to secure a position where she could continue working with her three special chimps.
After four long years, it was time for Koebner to move on to another job. With a heavy heart, Koebner said goodbye to the animals who had become like her children.
But after 18 years, Koebner had the opportunity to meet up with the chimps again. She returned to the sanctuary, but this time she had a film crew with her.
Koebner arrived at the chimps’s part of the sanctuary. “Remember me?” She called out to them.
But at first, the chimps approached with caution. From a distance, they couldn’t tell who it was.
But their curiosity had been aroused.
Koebner, however, had no doubt that when the animals got close enough, they would realize who it was.
But as the chimps came near the boat that Koebner was on, something shocking happened.
Koebner’s boat docked on the chimps’ island. Swing was right on the dock, desperate to touch the woman that he regarded as his mom.
Swing got close to Koebner and made a big smile. “I am so happy to see you,” Koebner said.
And then Doll joined them on the dock. Koebner could no longer hold back any tears. She hugged and kissed the chimpanzees.
Even after all these years, they obviously still loved each other.
Koebner spent the entire day with the chimpanzees. They ran around, played and hugged so much.
But what was really amazing was that Koebner could see all that has come about because of her work with the three chimps all those years ago.
Thanks to her success at acclimatizing the animals to nature, over 30 more chimps had come to the sanctuary.
None of those chimps would have been saved if it weren’t for Koebner, Doll, Sparky and Swing’s work.
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