Watch the emotional moment a woman reunites with chimps she rescued 25 years ago

By Litaletu Zidepa
15 June 2016

"Oh, you look great".

When Linda Koebner rescued chimpanzees Swing and Doll from a hepatitis research lab in January 1974, she had no idea their meeting would solidify a life-long friendship.

Before she saved them from the cold lab they thought to be home, the two chimps were unfamiliar with sunlight for almost six years.

“They were terrified to get out of the security of their transport cage,” Linda says in a segment from a 1999 documentary called "The Wisdom of the Wild."

"Whether it was afraid to step on the grass, they hadn't been on anything but hard bars for years, or just the feel of the wind and the sun. They just huddled in the doorways and wouldn't come out."

Read more: ‘I’m so grateful for him’: Woman saved from burning building as a child reunites with rescuer 18 years later

The animal behaviourist, who was a graduate at the time, gave up four years of her life teaching the chimps how to take care of themselves outside the cages after their release.

Now after two decades, Linda has returned to meet her friends in a documentary which captures their heartwarming reunion at the Florida sanctuary.

"It's been so long," she says in the film. "Oh, you look great."

Linda, who later founded a non-profit chimpanzee sanctuary Chimp Haven in Louisiana in 1995, a refuge home for lab chimps who were no longer needed for testing, says she tried her best to keep a respectful distance from the animals over the years, to allow them to ease on their new lives.

In the film, she can be seen reaching out her arm closer to the chimps uttering the words “Do you remember me?”

One of the chimps named ‘Swing’ instantly reacts with a beaming smile on her face, reaching her hand out to embrace Linda’s hand. Then suddenly, the second one (Doll) runs over excitedly embracing and hugging her old-time pal.

Read more: ‘You are so loved’: Woman abandoned in a dumpster as a baby reunites with rescuer 20 years later

Overwhelmed by the moment, tears run down Linda’s eyes trying to decipher the loving embrace.

"These chimpanzees have taught me about resilience,” she says.

"All of these have gone through such tremendous adversity, and yet they're forgiving, and they're whole again."

Sources: TheDodo, MailOnline, YouTube

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