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Ndakasi, gorilla in viral 2019 photobomb selfie, dies in caretaker's arms

  • Published at 05:59 pm October 7th, 2021
Ndakasi in the arms of her caretaker, Andre Bauma, days before her death Collected

The gorilla died at the age of 14 on September 26 after a prolonged illness

Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla from the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose image went viral when she photobombed her caretaker's selfie, is making the headlines again.

But this time around, she is back only to break the readers’ hearts—the gorilla died at the age of 14 on September 26 after a prolonged illness, according to media reports.

Issuing a statement on Tuesday, the park authorities said: “"It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been under the care of the Park's Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade." 

"Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma," it added.

The Senkekwe Center, located inside the park, is the only facility in the world that looks after orphaned mountain gorillas.

Bauma had looked after Ndakasi ever since rangers found her clinging to the body of her dead mother in 2007, when she was just two months old, according to CNN.

Too vulnerable to return to the wild, Ndakasi lived with other orphaned mountain gorillas until her death.

Ndakasi shot to global fame in 2019 when she and another female mountain gorilla, Ndeze, photobombed a selfie taken by another ranger, reports BBC. 

The photo shared on Facebook along with the caption, "Another day at the office" appears to show the gorillas trying to imitate the rangers who raised them.

The pair appear to be naturals in front of the camera; one stands proudly in a power pose with her feet wide apart, while the other leans forward to make it into the shot alongside park ranger Mathieu Shamavu.

In the selfie taken in 2019, the gorillas apparently tried imitating the rangers

Heartbroken for all the right reasons

Bauma rescued Ndakasi as a two-month-old after poachers killed her parents. 

With no relatives, rangers decided it was too unsafe to let Ndakasi back out into the wild. She was raised at the orphanage, where Bauma is the manager.

Speaking to the BBC in 2014, Bauma said he loved Ndakasi as if she were his daughter.

"We shared the same bed, I played with her, I fed her… I can say I am her mother."

He in the statement issued by the part said: “"It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. 

“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," he mentioned. 

"I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend. I loved her like a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her. She will be missed by all of us at Virunga but we are forever grateful for the richness Ndakasi brought to our lives during her time at Senkwekwe."

Ndakasi featured in several TV shows and films, including a documentary named "Virunga," but it was her photobomb in 2019 that brought her global fame.

The death of Ndakasi underscores the importance of protecting gorillas in their natural habitat, where they thrive and where their life expectancy is greatest, the statement concludes.

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