Aspinall’s cycle is always the same: by the time gorilla reaches the age of 5, it is released into the wild. Until then the animals live at Aspinall’s estate in Kent. When gorillas grow old enough, Aspinall’s team transfers them to the forests of Gabon in Africa where the animals start living in a natural environment.
It doesn’t always go smoothly. Back in 2014 the shocking headlines scattered across the media: “Damian Aspinall Kills His Gorillas.” It was obviously a figure of speech, but a rather bitter one for a nature-loving enthusiast such as Aspinall.
What had actually happened was a case of animal jealousy. Five out of 11 gorillas Aspinall released in Africa died — lifeless bodies of four adults and one baby gorilla were found on the Gabon reserve. They were all mauled by a jealous male gorilla, although some assumed poachers may have been behind the bloodbath. The others critiqued Aspinall’s “gorilla school” methods, which created a dangerous association in the animals’ minds between “food” and “people,” Whatever was the case, Aspinall was deeply affected by the death of gorillas he raised with such passion and care.
Upon their release into the wilderness, gorillas are hardly forgotten by Aspinall’s team. The staff of the foundation provides the animals with food and medical care until they can survive on their own. While Aspinall himself makes several visits a year to Gabon to check on his “friends.”