Recent events with the likes of ‘Hombre’ the Gorilla have shown when the borders of a zoos enclose are crossed it can very easily lead to a deadly situation, but this was much difrent.

In 1990 while enjoying a visit to the zoo in Detroit, Rick Swope did something truly amazing and something highly unadvised but because of it, tragedy was averted.


As Swope walked around the ape enclosure he noticed that there was a fight that had broken out between two males, after the altercation Jo-Jo the smaller of the two males decided he was no match and fled the scene. Unfortunately while escaping he ended up falling into the moat that ran around the outside of the enclosure. This moat is there as a precautionary measure to protect the visitors.

Chimps are generally speaking and in Jo-Jo’s case, unable to swim and the fall was to prove almost fatal.

“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.”

Despite being vehemently warned to keep away from going into the enclosure by a nearby zookeeper, Swope couldn’t stand by and watch such a beautiful creature drown. He swiftly scaled a security fence and dived into the water, swimming toward Jo-Jo.

The advice in a Zoo is clear and we reiterate this, never enter an animal’s enclosure, for any reason, however, we can’t help but respect Swope’s Swift actions to save the chimp’s life while putting his own at risk.

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