Ofir and I passed through a series of harrowing roadblocks where baby Jack was almost discovered by policemen. Though we feared he might not have survived the trip in the box, he was okay when we reached Ofir’s apartment. Two years before, the gorilla in the photograph wandered out of the jungle into Abong-Mbang, the town where we’d gotten Jack. The silverback was shot near the hospital by a retired gendarme.
The local officials charged with the task of protecting endangered species would not give us a permit to transport Jack; they wanted a bribe. So we put the gorilla into a box and smuggled him to Yaounde in one of two working taxis in town. Multiple flat tires and battery failure meant a four hour journey took ten hours, and we weren’t sure that Jack had survived the trip when we finally reached the capital.
Ofir received a call from an investigator in Abong-Mbang, Cameroon, who said he had located an orphaned chimp. The chimp was actually a gorilla. Reaching a gorilla baby who has survived the slaughter of its family is incredibly rare. We stayed with Jack inside a dank hotel room while formulating a plan to smuggle him to the capital.