A TOUCHING video in which a newly-freed chimpanzee hugs Bournemouth’s world-renowned conservationist Jane Goodall has been melting hearts around the world.

The moving clip is of Wounda, a rescued chimpanzee, being let loose into the safe environment of a forested island in a rehabilitation centre.

Dr Goodall, 83, has said the moment was “one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me”.

Although the clip was filmed by the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in 2013, it was shared on Twitter this week by animal welfare campaigner Philip Morris and retweeted 1,300 times.

One Twitter user said: “Feel good moment of my day … it is such a relief to see something beautiful.”

Another said: “Beautiful, am crying watching this. What amazing work they all do.”

Another wrote: “Can’t hold back my tears, it’s so moving. Respect to those amazing people.”

Wounda is one of more than 160 chimpanzees living at the JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre in the Republic of Congo. She was released onto one of three islands that form part of the expanded sanctuary.

Dr Goodall says in the full video: “This is a really exciting moment for me. The JGI Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Centre in the Republic of Congo has for years been caring for infants whose mothers were killed, mostly for the illegal bush meat trade.

“Many of them are now fully grown. Recently, we acquired three large forested islands on the beautiful Kouilou River where we can release many of the chimpanzees from our overcrowded centre.”

Wounda was the 15th chimpanzee to be given freedom. Even though Dr Goodall had never met her before, the newly released ape stopped to hug her before going off into the forest.

Dr Goodall said: “I talked to her on the boat, trying to reassure her. She must have wondered what was happening. None of us could predict exactly what she would do once the cage door opened.

“It was a very, very touching moment, one of the most amazing things that have ever happened to me. The warmth of her embrace is something I shall never forget.”

JGI, which warns against handling wild apes, reported a year after the hug that Wounda had perfectly adapted to life in the forest.

Although Dr Goodall spends most of her time travelling around the world, she is still based at the West Cliff house where she grew up.

She became known for her study of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, in 1960.

Watch the video online at bournemouthecho.co.uk

Information about the Tchimpounga project and fundraising for it is at http://janegoodall.org.uk