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At that point Mike was extremely upset, and they cut off the conversation. By then Barbara had no doubt that Michael had been recalling the time, as a baby in the forest in Africa, when a strange man chased his mother, shot her and most likely butchered (squashed) her body in front of him. This is, after all, what happens with young gorillas poached from the forest.
Michael remembrered the death of his mother again, and again. He retold his story to Penny and Ron for many years, and they recorded it on film for others to see. Often he seemed to be recalling the horrid sound of aunshot, the cries of pain, his own terror and trembling. He described the bright red blood, the shock, the struggle and submission as strong arms carried him off while his mother lay slaughtered in the bush. Michael never forgot his mother, the man who killed her, or his deep anguish.
( ASIDE: Photographer Karl Ammann has taken numerous photos of what’s called the “bushmeat trade” in Africa, where great apes (and other animals) are killed for their “meat” a well as for imagined “medicinal” properties. The tragedy is that the orphans of this trade don’t do very well; only a small fraction of them survive when their parents are taken from them by bushmeat hunters. Michael was one of the few survivors, and the only one we know of who lived to tell the story of what he witnessed in sign language. Here’s a black-and-white photo of a scene that Michael may have witnessed as an infant: you should be at least 12 years old to visit these photos .)
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