What started off as a typical day at the Detroit Zoo quickly devolved into chaos for those standing near the chimpanzee exhibit. Spectators watched as two chimps playfully chased each other around the exhibit, but then the unthinkable occurred.
Rick Swope was standing right in front of the enclosure and decided to step in and help instead of watching on the sidelines...
Just as the chimps began to chase each other around the enclosure's trees, one slipped and plunged into the moat surrounding the exhibit. It was obvious that the chimpanzee was struggling to stay afloat, yet zoo staff refused to come to the rescue.
Rick told the Chicago Tribune how desperate the situation was and how scared the animal looked.
"It was the most pitiful thing I ever saw. This chimp had his hands up and his head was sticking out of the water. He was looking at the crowd. It was like he wanted someone to rescue him."
After noticing no one else was willing to jump into action, Rick took things into his own hands.
"People were showing me which direction he was in. The water was so dirty you couldn't see through it. I swam around on the bottom. Finally I found him...
He was pretty lifeless, but you could see he was still alive. He was looking at me. I think he knew what was going on... The monkey never made any attempt to do anything to me.
I was thinking, what do you do now? Do you do mouth-to-mouth on a monkey? I remember thinking he might bite me if I did that.
Then I looked up and saw there was another one coming down the hill with his teeth bared. I didn't know if he was going after the other monkey or after me, but I got the hell out of there."
The moment Rick left the enclosure, he was surrounded by people cheering him on and patting him on the back - but Rick said he didn't do it for the attention. He just couldn't stand to see an innocent animal pass right in front of his eyes!