Would you let your toddler play with a gorilla?

Damian Aspinall tells Lesley Stahl there's nothing unusual about letting a toddler frolic with gorillas

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

Who would allow his 18-month-old daughter to play with gorillas? Damian Aspinall, an eccentric British zookeeper and multimillionaire.

In the video player above, watch footage of Aspinall's toddler frolicking with the powerful animals and Lesley Stahl's interview with Aspinall, who defends his family's practice of playtime with primates.

This week on 60 Minutes, Stahl profiled Aspinall and paid a visit to his 500-acre wildlife park which surrounds his estate in Kent, England. Despite being a zookeeper, Aspinall tells Stahl he believes zoos are a cruel invention and that he is committed to reintegrating zoo animals back to their natural habitat.


Aspinall has the reputation of leading a colorful and eccentric lifestyle, which he apparently learned from his father, who took dips in the pool with tigers and let gorillas and other wild animals roam the grounds of his property. Aspinall considered gorillas his childhood playmates and, despite criticism, has exposed his daughters to them in the same way he was.

Recently, Aspinall released a video of his then 18-month old daughter, Tansy, playing with gorillas. He was criticized and attacked in the British press for endangering his toddler, which he dismissed as "nonsense" in an interview with Stahl for 60 Minutes Overtime.

The 60 Minutes team has a close encounter wit... 04:01

Stahl also interviewed a now 22-year-old Tansy Aspinall, who describes her father's gorillas as "the best playmates." Tansy also said she considered them to be "more like aunts and uncles or cousins." Tansy insists that she never felt afraid or unsafe when playing with the gorillas and told Stahl she even knows how to speak "gorilla."

Despite the heavy criticism surrounding the footage, Tansy remains optimistic, telling Stahl, "there's also millions of people who saw it and saw how gentle the gorilla was with me and how kind it was."

This Overtime video was produced by Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson and Sean Kelly. It was originally published on March 15, 2015.