A big gorilla approaches a 5-year-old kid who had dropped from the wall of a zoo enclosure in a terrifying moment captured on video back in 1986 (see video below). The kid lies unconscious while he is examined by Jambo, a 450-pound gorilla male silverback, then he protects him from other gorillas, and strokes his back softly.
When the boy wakes up and begins to cry, Jambo moves away and, as seen in the video below, the other gorillas follow.
The scene was featured in “The Urban Gorilla,” an award-winning 1992 documentary by ArgoFilms that follows the lives of nine gorillas living in captivity.
Narrator Glenn Close describes the tense moment: “Never before had such an accident occurred. And never before had this full-grown male gorilla encountered a human being within his domain. Only the worst could be imagined. But what was to unfold this September afternoon would astonish the world.”
And it did. Jambo’s and the little boy’s tale produced headlines around the globe and helped to alter the perception of gorillas from “King Kong’s” mean-spirited animals to the smart, delicate species we understand them to be today.
All four gorilla subspecies are on the list of endangered species. The World Wildlife Fund, which has been working for more than 50 years to safeguard gorillas, claims that poaching, habitat loss, and infectious diseases are the greatest threats to the survival of the apes. Ebola hemorrhagic fever alone has wiped out entire gorilla populations in a number of outbreaks since the early 1990s.