Victoria sat down near the edge of the river bank. Damian sat closer to Ima and Djalta, holding out hope that they would welcome Victoria to come in towards them, as they had done with him. He wanted more than anything for Victoria to be welcomed into the gorilla’s clan.
At that moment, one of the gorillas emitted a low, guttural sound. Though it was a startling sound, Damian knew that it meant something was good. They also came closer to inspect their new friends, besides communicating with sounds, gorillas also smell and touch one another to get better acquainted.
As Victoria approached Djalta and Ima, they carefully watched her and emitted the same exact sounds they had made when Damian approached them. Victoria later said that she was incredibly nervous, but she trusted Damian’s experience with these animals and he beckoned her over, so she knew it would be safe.
This was an excellent sign and signaled to the couple that the gorillas did not see Victoria as a threat and were, in fact, welcoming her, just as they had welcomed Damian. Things were going well, and while Victoria’s nervousness began to ease, she still had to remain calm and refrain from making any sudden movements.
Though they had emitted friendly sounds, the gorillas were still cautious towards Damian and so he was still very nervous as to how they would react to Victoria. However, he remained positive and continued to beckon her to come closer, and she continued to slowly move forward toward Djalta and Ima.
What would happen next, however, was still very unclear and Damian had to be careful. Normally, gorillas are very shy so if they detect a strange animal or a person, even from a great distance, they often flee. In this case, they didn't flee which meant they weren't scared or frightened of people.
Their behavior was a signal that the gorillas were accepting Victoria and Damian could not have been more happy. His old friends were going to be friendly to his wife, which was everything he had been hoping for. As if on cue, one of the gorillas got up and went over to Victoria.
He then gave her a nuzzle with his face, the ultimate sign of acceptance among our primate relatives. Victoria mentioned that it was an incredible feeling to be accepted by an animal that could have killed her with one blow. But all they did was show affection towards her!
The day was winding down, but the gorillas continued to show Damian and Victoria lots of affection. They gave the couple warm, big hugs and lots of sweet nuzzles throughout the meeting. Gorillas usually bond by grooming each other and as a group, they often stay in close proximity to each other.
So forget about personal space, these primates are all about demonstrative affection and snuggling. But now it was getting late, so Damian and Victoria decided they needed to leave the river bank and head in for the night, but they knew they would soon be seeing Djalta and Ima again.