Linda Koebner had a passion to help transition a small group of chimpanzees that had lived their whole lives in laboratory settings to a life of freedom at a sanctuary. She not only released the chimps but lived alongside them. For four years she helped them transition into a life no longer behind bars.
When the chimps were first released from their boxed cages to an open grassy area that would become their new home, they were afraid to stray from the boxes. A life of captivity was all that they knew and they were afraid of what may lie ahead. Linda was there for them every step of the way. Soon the chimps began thriving in their new environment and before long it was time for Linda to move on and leave them to live out their lives.
Eighteen years passed without Linda seeing her old friends, but that was about to change. One day Linda paid a visit to the chimps. Not knowing how they’d react or if they’d remember her at all. She called to them and talked to them in a calming voice reminiscing about the life that her and the chimps shared. Two of the chimps named Swing and Doll seemed to remember her as they came to get a closer look. A small pond separated Linda from her long lost friends, so she got into a boat and paddled across. What happened next is truly heart warming. Swing can hardly wait for her boat to approach the dock that he waits on. As she talks to him he smiles and reaches for her and then hugs her. Then Doll joins in and the three share an emotional group hug.
This story really illustrates the power of love and relationships that animals and humans share. For the chimps to carry that memory of their friend and the fondness that they had for her, for 18 years without seeing her is truly remarkable.