Toddler Playing With Gorilla Video Goes Viral

Damian Aspinall discusses a viral video of his daughter and a 300-pound gorilla.
3:00 | 09/17/12

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Transcript for Toddler Playing With Gorilla Video Goes Viral
first, though, we want to get right to that video. We just saw this toddler playing happily with a 300-pound gorilla, raising new questions this morning about parenting and the perception of those giant prime m primate. First, here's their story. ♪ Reporter: It's a stunning image, tansy aspinall, just 18 months old, playing with a 300-pound gorilla. What's more, she didn't get in the enclosure by accident, her dad, damian, placed her there. We have a friendship with these animals. Reporter: The video was shot over 20 years ago. And damian hopes the video showing the softer side of these animals will help to raise money. The question is, is this safe? You've got to be very careful. These are wild animals. And it's unpredictable when you get used to it. Reporter: Jack hanna says in most cases, no. But he takes into consideration the aspinall's history with gorilla, including the grandfather, john. The key is, he and his son were accepted as part of that family structure, that's rare. King kong didn't do much for the reputation of the gorilla. They're a gentle giant. Reporter: Still, attacks can happen. There is a gorilla on the loose and it's going after people. Reporter: In 2004, a gorilla escaped at the dallas zoo, shaking and biting a 3-year-old, leaving him with a collapsed lung. So could this video spark a backlash. Critics took aim at the late steve irvin when he fed a crocodile while holding his child. Fear kept him from releasing his tape earlier, one that he hopes will spark support for these majestic creatures even if it startles parents. We're joined by the former toddler in that video, tansy aspinall and her father damian, on satellite from london. Damian, I want to get right to you. Something when you glimpse it, it seems certainly outside the norm. But for you, this was very normal. Why did you let your daughter at that tends are age of 18 months play with the gorilla? Because I could see that there's was an acceptance here. The reality is I was brought up with gorillas and my family was brought up with gorillas as was said earlier, if you're brought up with gorillas and you're part of the family group it's not risky at all. I understand how some would find it hard to believe, but it just isn't. These animals are very, very gentle animals. And the whole point of this is that people can see this. And people want to help gorillas, this is a great opportunity to get behind the aspinall foundation and perhaps fund our work for helping gorillas get back to the wild. Looking at that video, tansy, it's really beautiful to see those moments. What do you remember? I don't remember specifically the video. But I definitely going in with the animals and loving being around them. It was like playing, really. So this was a part of your life? Yeah, oh, my god, completely. On the weekend, we would go in and play with them. It would be a real highlight for the weekend. Your father mentioned it was part of the family structure. Did you ever sense, gorilla to gorilla, did you ever sense when they were having bad days, good days? Yeah. The important thing to remember about gorillas, they're exactly like humans. There's some much more kind and gently than others which are the ones that we go in with. And they're happy and then angry. Do you ever remember any overaggression? Do you ever remember being frightened? Never. My dad would never put me in with an aggressive gorilla. Damian, there was actually conversation that you would have. There were hand signals to speak to your extended family members? There's a number of vocalizations. Communicating is vocalizing, a lot of hand movements and body movements. I know exactly what's happening with the gorilla structure. I do this every week. You can tell straight away if they're not happy. Interestingly now, damian, you now have an 8-year-old daughter. You make the choice to not let her play with the gorilla, why not? Well, I would. The political landscape has changed, the health and safety laws make it very, very difficult. If it was down to me, I wouldn't hesitate at all. I think she's actually being -- sorry? I just want to ask, tansy, again, the way you grew up, the way your father grew up, if you have a child, will they play with gorillas given the opportunity? I'm only 22, so kids are quite a long way away for me. I'm not sure I want to think about that. I hope my children have the same with gorilla as I do. You released this tape now to bring attention to the work that you're doing. What is the work and why so important? Well, we do a number of things in conservation. But one of the most important projects is we're the number one breeder of gorillas in captivity in the world. We bred over 130 gorillas. For me, the whole point of keeping animals in captivity, keeping them there is vile. For me, bringing them up and releasing them into the wild. As we said earlier, we've had over 130 gorilla births in england. That's the world record. It's all about breeding and sending them home and protecting them. We protect them in africa. We're very proud of the work that we do. If anyone is out there that wants to help, we need money to help these animals and what mankind is destroying. It's wonderful work that you doo. Again, however shocking it is to see that beautiful video, tansy aspinall, appreciate it. Damian, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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