Animals can become orphaned and rely on humans for survival. Fortunately, there are many people who devote their life to caring for these animals and may act as their parents.
One viral photo featured two orphaned gorillas posing for a “selfie” with one of their rescuers, exemplifying the trust between these animals and their caretakers.
Unfortunately, one of those gorillas died lately, and another photo illustrates that her bond with her human companions lasted till the end.
Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is committed to safeguarding native wildlife, especially a population of endangered mountain gorillas who are continuously threatened by illicit poaching.
A two-month-old baby gorilla clinging to the lifeless remains of her mother, who had been shot by an armed militia, was discovered by park officials in April 2007.
They took in the orphaned baby gorilla, and ranger Andre Bauma made an instant bond with her: “All night long, Andre held the baby close to him, keeping her tiny body tightly against his bare chest for warmth and comfort,” Virunga said in a news release.
The orphaned gorilla, Ndakasi, settled into a happy life in the park, living alongside another orphan, Ndeze, and maintaining a close bond with her caretakers.
In 2019, a unique and gorgeous photo of the gorillas went viral, allowing the entire world to see their bond.
Ndakasi and Ndeze pose for a “selfie” with their friend and caretaker Mathieu Shamavu in the photo. Both gorillas are standing straight and appear to be simply posing for the amusing photograph:
Many people couldn’t believe the photo was real until it went viral. The photograph, however, demonstrated the close and trusting bond that these gorillas had with their human caretakers.
“Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky, so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities!” the park captioned the photo on Instagram.
“I’m still close to them, and they feel good,” Mathieu explained to The Dodo.
Unfortunately, Ndakasi died on September 26 after a long illness, according to the park.
But, as one exquisite, devastating photo illustrates, she did not die alone: she died in the arms of her lifelong friend Andre Bauma, the same ranger who had taken her in as an orphan so many years before.
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“It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age,” Andre stated in a press release. “It was Ndakasi’s sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to understand the connection between humans and Great Apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them.”
“I am honoured to call Ndakasi a friend. I adored her like a child, and her upbeat personality made me grin every time I engaged with her.”
The park also remembers her famous selfie affectionately, saying it helped convey a positive message about gorillas and their guardians.
“Their playful nature was a reminder to the world of how much we see ourselves in these animals and it’s one of the reasons Andre Bauma will miss her so dearly,” Virunga wrote in a letter.
Ndakasi, rest in peace. The bond between orphaned animals and their human caretakers can be quite close and loving, as seen by two stunning photographs. We know she will be missed by everybody who knew and loved her.
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