Humans spent a majority of their evolutionary history closely related to flora and fauna. However, with time, we have grown distant from it as fairly advanced new technological devices take up most of their time. It is certainly hard to imagine a human risking their life for another animal. But Rick Swope, a 33-year-old truck driver from Cement City altruistically proved that our long-lost relationship with nature is not dead after all.
It’s been a long time since this noble man risked his life to save a drowning chimpanzee, but no matter how much time has passed, it’s still worth mentioning. Back in 1990, Rick Swope went to visit the freshly opened chimpanzee exhibit in Detroit with his wife and three children. Looking forward to seeing chimp games, little did he know that he had a heroic day ahead.
Everything went exciting until two chimpanzees in the Harambe exhibit started fighting near the water. The two opponents were mismatched. A smaller one named Jo-Jo ran towards the tree and another larger aggressive one went after him. He caught up with Jo-Jo and Jo-Jo fell into the water in the failed attempt to escape. Chimpanzees can’t swim and are usually afraid of water. Jo-Jo soon disappeared under the water.
He needed to be rescued immediately but no one stood forward. Not even the zoo staff. The experts were hesitant, but Rick didn’t even think twice.
Despite the zoo staff’s warnings, Rick bravely climbed over the 4-foot fence and dived into the water. He quickly jumped in the water and swam to Jo-Jo. As he grabbed Jo-Jo’s arm, he used the rest of his body to get the two of them out of water. Jo-Jo’s immobile demeanor in Rick’s arms was evident of how afraid he was.
As Rick and Jo-Jo reached the edge of the water, he gave Jo-Jo a push to get him firmly on the grass.
Rick commented on Animal Planet that he knew Jo-Jo was alive only when Jo-Jo turned to face him after he got him on the grass. He told Deseret News, “He was looking at me. I think he knew that I was helping him.”
The danger was not yet over. Now he had to worry about his own safety. He quickly swam to the border of the Chimp’s territory and climbed out.
There is no doubt that Rick Swope saved the chimp who would’ve otherwise died from drowning. His altruistic bravery proves he is indeed a superhero.