In 1990, during a visit to the Detroit Zoo, truck driver Rick Swope did something no one else would do. As Swope stood looking in on the facility's ape enclosure, a fight broke out between a chimp named Jo-Jo and another male. After the brief scuffle, Jo-Jo tried to escape — only to end up falling into a deep moat designed to keep him in. Since chimps are unable to swim, the move nearly proved 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."
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Despite being warned to keep away by a zookeeper, Swope leapt into action — climbing a security wall to dive in after Jo-Jo, saving the chimp's life while putting his own at risk.The story made national headlines at the time, and even famed primatologist Jane Goodall herself weighed in.
"[The Goodall Institute director] called up Rick Swope and he said, 'That was a very brave thing you did. You must have known it was dangerous. Everyone was telling you. What made you do it?' And Rick said, 'Well, you see, I happened to look into his eyes, and it was like looking into the eyes of a man, and the message was, 'Won't anybody help me?'"
She added, "If you see that look with your eyes, and you feel it in your heart, you have to jump in and try to help."
And that's what being a hero is all about.
(h/t: The Dodo)
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