Zoo staff hesitate when a chimp starts drowning - then truck driver breaks all the rules

Zoo staff hesitate when a chimp starts drowning – then truck driver breaks all the rules

At Detroit Zoo in Michigan there is a state-of-the art chimpanzee enclosure that has become one of its main attractions, drawing crowds of animal lovers.

But as the crowds gathered to watch the chimps playing and sometimes fighting in their new enclosure one day, little did they know the events that were about to unfold.

As two male chimps chased each other, one proved more aggressive and caused the other to fall into water below.

The chimp started drowning and the horrified onlookers shouted at zoo staff to help. The animal experts knew how dangerous it would be to run into the enclosure but then one visitor decided to risk all and jump in.


The Great Apes of Harambee is a 4-acre habitat that is home to 11 chimpanzees who spend their days “foraging, grooming and playing, just as they would in their native African environment,” the zoo website says.

It’s been a popular visitor attraction over the years and on this occasion the crowds were not disappointed as they watched a playful display from two of the chimps.

But when the play became more aggressive one of the chimps called Jo-Jo fell into the water.

Image result for jo-jo rick drowning

Chimps don’t like to swim as their low body fat ratio causes them to sink and they find it difficult to keep their heads above water.

The incident happened in 1990 and the shocking video is still been shared by those who have yet to see the drama unfold.

As Jo-Jo’s lifeless body gets carried along by the current, horrified onlookers shout to staff to help but they don’t do anything immediately owing to the potential dangers of entering a chimp enclosure.

But 33-year-old truck driver Rick Swope did do something immediately.

”I was really kind of hoping somebody else would do it. But when nobody did, I knew that if I didn`t, I`d go home and kick myself in the butt,” Rick told the Chicago Tribune.

The father of three jumped into the enclosure and into the water to save Jo-Jo.

Image result for jo-jo rick drowning

Chimps are seven times stronger than an adult male and yet Rick, who is 5 feet 10 and 200 pounds, managed to grab the 135 lb animal and drag him through the murky water to safety.

“He was pretty lifeless, but you could see he was still alive,” Rick said. ”He was looking at me. I think he knew what was going on.”

‘It was no big deal’

As he wondered whether he should stick around to make sure the chimp was okay, he saw another chimp coming toward him with his teeth bared and decided to make a very quick exit.

He managed to get out before the second chimp could reach him.

”It was no big deal, you know,” a modest Rick told the Chicago Tribune. ”It wasn`t nothin` that hard. It didn`t take an exceptional person to do it. If it did, I couldn`t have done it.”

Watch this animal hero in action in the clip below and if you too were impressed don’t forget to share it.

What a hero!