We all know animals are amazing, and yet they just seem to keep surprising us. By now, we’ve seen so many incredible moments captured on video, it shouldn’t be news to anybody that they’re capable of great love and affection, both for each other and for us.

Yet until we all learn how to speak “dog,” “cat,” “elephant,” “dolphin” and the like, there will always be mysteries and things we wonder about our furry and feathered friends. Number one mystery for many people? How good their memories are— and how that memory affects their affection.

Everybody’s heard the phrase “elephants never forget,” for example, but what about our nearest cousins in the animal kingdom— the great apes? Well, if we’re going by the video from the Aspinall Foundation below, not only do they have pretty good memories themselves, they also have a great capacity to understand both human growth and interspecies friendship.

Tansy Aspinall, the human star of this video, grew up around gorillas in Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, England, helping her family’s Aspinall Foundation in its work rehabilitating captive gorillas and eventually releasing them into their natural habitat in western Africa.

Tansy tells London’s Evening Standard:

“I loved playing in the animal enclosures,” she recalls. “The gorillas would come up and hug you, and we’d run and roll around and chase them. So fun.” There’s even a YouTube video of her aged 18 months frolicking in straw and being thrown about by a 300lb male. “Dad got into trouble with social services for that,” she chuckles. “But they were only babies, they weren’t fully grown. One was even in nappies.” Another one slept upstairs in the nursery of their cottage. “They were so sweet.”

Two of those gorillas, Bimms and Djalta, were raised alongside Tansy before being released back into their natural habitat. Twelve years after they left, Tansy and her father Damian travelled to Gabon to see if they could find their old friends.

As the video below shows, the father-daughter pair traveled down the river on a boat. When they reached an area where gorillas had been spotted, Damian attempted calling their favorite pair with a special call. Just when the travelers started to think that Bimms and Djalta have forgotten their English start, they appeared on the riverbank. Once Damian disembarked and headed to shore, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that these gorillas absolutely remembered their friends.

It’s incredible enough when Djalta and Bimms appear, and amazing when they respond to Damian’s calls, but the way they react to Tansy, who was just a small child the last time they saw her? There are no words. Just watch.

Wow! Of her incredible reunion, Tansy shared with The Daily Mail:

‘When we set out to find them again I was a little apprehensive at first because I didn’t know if they would remember me after all that time, or if they had become hardened by life and possibly dangerous.
‘So, it was amazing to see that not only did they know me, but they had such gentle looks on their faces that I felt immediately safe and reassured. At no point did I feel fear. They had some rough and tumble with dad, but were really very gentle with me.

Beautiful. What do you think of this amazing animal encounter? Were you surprised, or did this video fit with what you know of gorillas and great apes? Would you ever let your child get close to wild animals, like Tansy’s dad did her?