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article imageVideo of 18-month-old girl playing with gorillas goes viral

By Leigh Goessl     Sep 18, 2012 in World
A recently uploaded video on YouTube is going viral. The footage shows an 18-month-old girl playing with gorillas. The clip was published 20 years after it was taken.
The video, titled "Tiny Tansy Aspinall Meets The Gorillas" was uploaded on Sept. 14 and shows a young toddler hugging and having close interaction with a 300-pound gorilla. And what's amazing is her father placed her there, intentionally.
The clip is now going viral, with well over 200,000 views and has sparked some debate over a whether or not this was responsible parenting.
Damian Aspinall runs a foundation that works to protect endangered species. He has been working with gorillas his entire life, and his father, John Aspinall, had also been a gorilla expert. The gorillas are described as family members.
Aspinall told ABC News he hesitated all these years to share the clip as he feared criticism. However, at this time he has released the footage of his then 18-month-old daughter as part of a campaign to help raise money for the conservation group and show "the softer side" of gorillas.
ABC questioned whether or not this is safe. Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus at the Columbus Zoo emphasized the family's relationship with these gorillas is an important factor.
Hanna told the network, "you've got to be very careful, these are wild animals. The key is John [Tansy's grandfather] and his son were accepted as part of that family structure, that's very rare."
A YouTube screen shot from a video of a then 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing with a 300-pound go...
A YouTube screen shot from a video of a then 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing with a 300-pound gorilla.
Aspinall Foundation
He also noted gorillas are "gentle giants", but acknowledged attacks can happen.
ABC News held an exclusive interview with Aspinall and Tansy, who is now 22. When asked what she remembered, Tansy replied, "I don't remember specifically that video, but I definitely remember going in with the animals and loving being around them. It was like playing with another brother or sister really."
Tansy goes on to describe the moods of the animals she played with, and her father described the types of communication that occurs between humans and gorillas.
Aspinall has another 8-year-old daughter, who is not permitted to play with the gorillas. He said that this is because the "political landscape has changed", and cites today's health and safety laws.
"If it was down to me, I wouldn't hesitate at all," he said.
What do you think about a young Tansy playing with a gorilla?
More about Video, Gorillas, Toddler, Damian Aspinall, tansy aspinall
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