‘I loved her like a child,’ says caretaker who raised the viral selfie gorilla - GulfToday

‘I loved her like a child,’ says caretaker who raised the viral selfie gorilla

Brent Stirton

Caretaker Andre Bauma comforts Ndakasi during her last days. Photo: Brent-Stirton

Gulf Today Report

A mountain gorilla named Ndakasi, which posed for a selfie with a ranger in Virunga National Park in Congo, has died aged 14 from a long illness, the park official said.

The Virunga National Park said on Instagram, “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. On the evening of 26 September, following a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated, Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma. ”⁠

Ndakasi was only two months old when rangers found her hanging from the lifeless body of her mother who had been killed by armed militias in 2007.

Bauma consoled her that first night by holding her to his bare chest and has continued to take care of her ever since.

Gorila A ranger and caretaker poses for a photo with Ndakasi (left) and Ndeze at the Senkwekwe Center. File/ AP

Se was transferred to the Senkwekwe Center after its establishment in 2009 and lived with other orphaned mountain gorillas.

The life of the mountain gorilla was featured in the TV shows and documentary film "Virunga" and rose to internet fame in 2019 with a selfie featuring her standing relaxed on two feet, with her belly out next to another gorilla with another ranger in the foreground taking the selfie.

"She was tiny, she only weighed a couple of kilos," Bauma told the media.

"We shared the same bed, I played with her, and I fed her.

"I loved her like a child," he said.

"Her cheerful personality made me smile every time I interacted with her.

Bauma said he was proud to have called Ndakasi a friend.

Virunga National Park in eastern Congo is home to some of the last mountain gorillas in the world.

Neighboring Rwanda and Uganda also have a few mountain gorillas and together their populations exceed just over 1,000.

Nearly 700 Virunga Park rangers risk their lives to protect its wildlife in an area that has seen more than two decades of armed conflict and instability.

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